Pasta and Ragu pt.1

June 30, 2011

Pasta Dishes


I have been cooking for as long as I can remember.  My earliest memory of cooking is standing on a kitchen chair at the stove in our house on Orange Street in Rialto CA. I am not 100% sure how old I was but I do know we moved from that house when I was half way though 1st grade. I can’t remember a time that I did not cook in some way.  So it seems odd that Pasta would be such a wall in the way of my cooking process.

I have been putting off making my own pasta for years. Years, I tell you.  Just the thought of making pasta made me pause.  Why would I want to make my own pasta when all I had to do was pop down the basement and grab a box off the shelf.  Too much fuss I tell you.  I was always in a hurry to do what ever was leftover from earlier in the day.  So when I started making my own pasta sauce (more on that this weekend in part 2) I thought that now was the time to take the plunge and give making pasta a try.  Now most of you who know me in real life know I rarely allow something to get the better of me and pasta had been pushing me around long enough!  So I set out to conquer this “pasta.”   I tired out a few different recipes and they were…OK at best.  I knew I could do better so I took the best from the group and ended up with the following.  I now wonder why I waited so long to do this very simple dish. I did discover one interesting thing in all the tweaking of this recipe, I really don’t like pasta made with semolina flour…at all.

Now I know you are thinking but WikiJan I don’t have a pasta machine to roll out the dough.  You don’t need one this can be made with a rolling-pin, now it will take a bit more work on your part but it is really worth it.  If you are looking for a reason to purchase a pasta machine here is a good reason to do so, one can be gotten for under $45.   I used my KitchenAid to mix this pasta but it can be done totally by hand.  Now on to the recipe…

Basic Pasta recipe

400gr Ap Flour

4 eggs

2Ts Kosher Salt

40gr Olive oil

1Ts fresh ground black pepper (finely ground)

1  pair of exam gloves if making by hand

If using a Mixer~

Place all the flour and pepper into the mixing bowl and attach the dough hook.  In a separate bowl mix together the salt, oil and eggs till combined. Pour egg mixture into the flour and turn the mixer on low to combine the flour and egg mixture to begin to combine.

Turn the mixer up to medium as the dough starts to come together.  It will be a bit crumbly and in various sized clumps like this…

It should start to pull together after a minute or so and begin to look like this…

If your dough is still on the dry side at  a bit of water a 1/2 teaspoon full at a time being sure to allow it to be fully integrated into the dough before adding more.  Once you get to this point allow your dough to bang around in the mixing bowl for another minutes.  You will know it has “kneaded” in the mixer long enough if when you pinch a section and it bounces back. It should be nice and smooth and have a bit of a satin sheen to it.

Remove from the mixing bowl and form into a ball and allow to “rest” for about an hour or until you can push in a dent that does not spring right back.

Now you are ready to roll out the pasta. Lightly flour your counter and your ball of pasta dough, cut your dough in half.  Set your pasta machine to the widest setting.  Flatten out and shape into an oblong lump of dough and run it the pasta machine, you want to do this a couple of times till the dough is nice and smooth.  Lower the setting and lightly dust with flour every few passes.  Continue to lower the settings until your dough is the thickness you would like, we like ours thinned out to the #2 setting.

You can see how thin the dough is in the above photo.

Be sure to not pull on the dough as it exits the pasta machine as it will tear and you will need to start over.

Here is the end result…there is enough pasta here to feed 3-4 hungry people.  You can allow it to sit over night to dry  then store in a cool dry container.

This fresh pasta cooks amazingly quick.  In a 6qt or larger pot add a healthy amount of salt and allow to come to a boil,  Put the pasta into the water, DON’T walk away, stir to keep from sticking.  It will take only about 60-90 seconds for the pasta to cook when rolled to an #2 thinness.

I will add the photos of how to make pasta without using a mixer on Saturday when I add the Ragu recipe so check back then if you would like to know how to do this all by hand.

By hand~

Mix the black pepper into the flour and pour into a mound on your counter…yes right on the counter. Next blend together the eggs, salt and olive oil in a bowl.  Now make a well in the center of the flour and press the “walls” so that they stand up on their own.  This is an important step because it has to hold the egg mixture with in the walls instead of spilling all over your counter.

Pour the egg mixture into the well of the flour and carefully start pulling flour from the walls you have made.  Be careful so you don’t break though them. Like so…

 

Keep working in the egg mixture until the walls start crumbling the switch over to a pastry board scraper to lift and turn over the mass scraping the “egg-y” stuff from the counter.  Think…under, lift, flip as you do this.

Now is the time for the gloves, I obtained this trick from Alton Brown, and it works wonders!  Wearing your gloves you want to knead the “egg-y” mass working in all the remaining flour on the counter and off your gloves.  Don’t add any more flour.  The dough will start coming together and smoothing out as you knead,  it should take about 2-3 minutes to work in all the flour.  The dough will be kneaded enough when the dough feels smooth as you knead it and when you pinch it, it bounces back.

Allow the dough to rest until the gluten relaxes (about an hour or so) then roll out by way of a pasta machine or rolling pin.

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2 Comments on “Pasta and Ragu pt.1”

  1. Eric Says:

    Jan,

    You are a HICK … did you have the hubby do all this for you? Just kiddin … think it’s amazing that you are so worldly. Now where is my snacks? DUH MAN

    Reply

    • Wikijancooks Says:

      Aww Eric you don’t need me cooking for you, that is why WikiJan Cooks is here. You can have my food in your own kitchen with just a little effort, I mean there is only so much of me to go around. The Husband didn’t have any idea I was going to jump in the blogging pool till I was all set up, a few friends at work and The Hungry Neophyte were the ones to kick me into the blog world so I have set a year limit to decide if this is for me or not. So far I am enjoying it but we will see..

      WikiJan

      Reply

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