Making pasta from scratch? Really? Is that a good idea? Is it cheaper? I'd have to say "it depends" to the first question, and definitely "no" to the second. Yet I've got to blog about it because I just spent a stupid amount of money on a pasta attachment, and that's with my hefty discount at Sur la Table!
We have lots of pasta classes at the store, so that must mean that lots of people want to make it from scratch. I get that. At high-end Italian restaurants when I ordered something simple like lasagna I wondered why the heck it tasted so much better than what I could make at home. The answer lies in the melt-in-your mouth noodles that are so different than those that come from a package. With that said, you can find a box of pasta on sale for a buck -- the attachment for the Kitchen Aide mixer is $200. There is no way on earth that I'll be making 200 batches of homemade lasagna before it's all said and done. (Oh yeah, with my discount I don't have to make quite that many, but it still won't be happening -- plus if we're getting picky about costing it out, I'd need to include the cost of the ingredients!)
I am three batches into ownership of the pasta attachment. The first one was a bit of a disaster, but the second two were fabulous. I have worked several pasta classes, so had seen it done, but looked at a couple of You-tube videos prior to doing it on my own. One suggested using the dough-hook attachment of the Kitchen Aide to actually make the dough. Great idea -- or so I thought, until the dough was so tough and dry that it was hard to roll out in sheets. The machine will keep incorporating all of the flour, when in contrast if you do it by hand you will get the "feel" for when it is pliable and just right. Lesson learned -- the next two times I did it by hand, which is a very easy procedure.
The ingredients are amazingly simple - 2 1/2 c all purpose flour, 1 T kosher salt and four large fresh eggs. The recipe says adding a tablespoon of olive oil is optional -- I didn't think of it until after the photo below, so sprinkled a drizzle over the mixture, but think I could have been fine without it.
This is not something you'd want to do if you were finicky about getting your hands dirty (or about handling raw eggs....).
Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until it is pliable but no longer sticky. This was where I got in trouble using the machine. The Kitchen Aide had no trouble incorporating all the flour, but it was way too tough and dry at the end.
When the kneading is done, the dough needs to be wrapped and allowed to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes or up to an hour. If made in advance, refrigerate and then allow to sit out until it reaches room temp. The pile of crud to the left is all of the excess flour that was tossed.
After the pasta has rested the fun begins. Speaking of fun, we'd invited two couples over for dinner to help provide the material for this post, and to have a fun evening together. My co-chefs were my dear friends Kim and Sally. The husbands were plenty entertained just watching us make the pasta.
The rested dough was divided into thirds so each of us had a manageable piece to work with. Each third was kneaded a bit more before it was ready to start processing through the machine. The first run is rough, but after folded into thirds and run through again the sheets begin to look like fresh pasta.
Prepare each portion of dough to fit through the roller set at a wide setting.The first time through the dough looks rough, but that's ok. Each piece goes through the roller about six times before it is the melt-in-your-mouth-amazing homemade pasta.
Take the first time through rough sheet, fold it in thirds and then send it through the wide set roller again. After the first time it sticks together. The process is to then adjust the roller tighter and tighter each pass through of the dough.
See how it's hanging together better the second pass through?Sally is supervising Kim on what I would guess to be the third or fourth pass through the roller. The sheet gets longer and longer as the pasta gets thinner and thinner.
Once the pasta is the desired thickness the attachment is changed to the cutting roller to make spaghetti or fettuccine.
Since the pasta is fresh it takes only a couple of minutes to cook in the boiling salted water. Use plenty of salt in the pan! (No picture -- you can visualize it, I'm sure...)
My guess is that most of you, our dear readers will NOT be going out to buy a pasta machine, but I hope that reading this has helped you gain an appreciation for what is going on in the kitchens of restaurants that prepare their own pasta. For a "take-away" that is more applicable, here's a word of advice on preparing red sauce. Prior to serving make it mellow, extra-delicious, and decadent by adding a splash of cream (about 1/2 c for six servings). At Sur la Table it seems like we "finish" most recipes with cream or butter. Maybe I don't want to do that for every meal, but this fabulous pasta deserves an equally fabulous sauce, so the heck with those added calories!
|Dinner is served!|