July 14, 2011

Fresh Egg Pasta






Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for SpƤtzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making fresh pasta. It ranks up there with filleting a fish, deboning a chicken and making a pie crust.

So when I saw this month’s Daring Cook’s Challenge I was excited. I would being forced to confront my fear and find out one way or the other if I was up to the challenge.

The one condition I set down for myself was that I wasn’t going to buy any specialized equipment. The challenge specified no motorized pasta machines, but manual pasta rollers were within the rules. I had no idea how the pasta was going to turn out and I didn’t want to invest the money (or kitchen space) in a piece of equipment I might never use again.

I read several recipes for fresh egg pasta and the ingredients were the same: flour, eggs, salt. Maybe some water. That’s it. I finally settled on the recipe for fresh egg pasta from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. He had some useful background information and enough detail to help guide me through.

I followed the recipe as best I could, wishing I had an Italian nonna to stand over my shoulder and tell me if the dough felt right, how much to knead it and how thin to roll it.

Instead I used my judgment and hoped for the best. I didn’t need a pasta roller after all. I was able to roll out the pasta dough pretty thin with a rolling pin. And the combination of a pizza cutter and ruler made quick work of cutting the dough into strips. I later learned that there are precise definitions for the different pastas. Mine fell somewhere between tagliatelle (1/4 inch wide) and fettuccine (1/2 inch wide).

The noodles cooked up firm but tender. The thinner ones became beautifully translucent. I figured since I’d gone through the trouble of making fresh pasta by hand, I’d splurge a little on the sauce. So I tossed them with Ina Garten’s recipe for truffle butter, which you can find here.

The pasta was delicious. I’m not saying it would have passed an Italian nonna’s test. But for a girl whose grandparents hail from India, they weren’t half bad!

  
Egg pasta dough contains three ingredients, four if you count water. To begin, put your flour in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the salt and one egg.



Beat the egg and gently begin to incorporate some of the flour.






Add another egg and repeat.




Add the third egg and incorporate all of the flour.






Gather the dough into a ball and put it on a lightly floured surface.




Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth.




Cut the dough into six pieces and work on one piece at a time.




Roll out the dough until you get it as thin as possible.




Then cut it into strands. I was able to make reasonably uniform pieces with a ruler and pizza cutter.




I placed the strands on a sheet pan and dusted them with a little flour. I put them in the fridge until I was ready to cook them.




To cook, just put the noodles in salted, boiling water. 






Cook until the noodles are done to your liking.




Toss with sauce and serve! Buon appetito!





Traditional Egg Pasta Dough

Adapted from a recipe by Mark Bittman in How to Cook Everything

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
A few drops water, if needed


1.      Mound the flour on a smooth countertop, or place it in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the salt. Then break in an egg, beating with a fork and incorporating a little of the flour. Beat in another egg and repeat, until all the flour is mixed with the eggs. Gather the mixture in a ball.

2.      Turn the dough out onto a dry, lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth, just a minute or two. Add water by the half-teaspoonful if the mixture is dry; add flour if it is sticky. This should be an easy dough to work. Cut the dough into 6 pieces; wrap 5 pieces in plastic. (I put the extra pieces in the fridge until I was ready to work with them.)

3.      Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it is as thin as you can make it.

4.      Cut the dough into strips or whatever shape you’d like.

5.      You can cook the pasta immediately. (I sprinkled a little flour over it and let it dry out for several minutes before covering it with plastic wrap and placing it in the fridge. I cooked it later in the day.)

6.      To cook, add the pasta to boiling, salted water. Cook until al dente. (Mine took 5 minutes.)


Note: In his book, Bittman tells you how to make the dough by hand and in a food processor. I’ve only included the by-hand recipe, which is the one I followed.

Serves 3 to 4 as a main course

9 comments:

  1. Ah, your ruler is a brilliant idea! My hubby complained about mine not all being the same size and you came up with a very frugal way to get around that! Thanks!

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  2. Good thinking using a ruler! I made a nice, wide, pappardelle and estimated, perhaps next time I will bust out a ruler to help.

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  3. Ha! these - filleting a fish, deboning a chicken and making a pie crust - are my scary things too. Maybe daring kitchens will keep challenging us and we'll overcome them too.

    great job on the pasta.

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  4. Your pasta looks and sounds delicious. I am sure a nonns would be very proud! I love Mark Bittman's cookbooks, and encourage you to use his pie crust recipe - you will conquor another fear with his help! Great work on the challenge!

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  5. Delicious looking pasta and the truffle butter sounds decadent! Great work on this challenge!

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  6. That's a great idea to add eggs one at a time. The noodles look perfect and the sauce sounds sooo good.

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  7. Oh my goodness, I am so impressed by your hand-rolling those beautiful, paper-thin noodles! : ) I'm quite jealous!
    (Also: you used a ruler? I figured that a couple slightly uneven noodles were part of the homemade charm! :p)

    I definitely think that homemade noodles are a great place to splurge -- that meal sounds delicious!

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  8. I agree with your list of scary things... I've never done any of those other things! Your dish looks great, and I love the simplicity of the butter sauce. What a great way to highlight the fresh pasta!

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  9. Pie crust? No problem. Noodles? I guess I'd best give that a try sometime soon! : )

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