Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rolling and Cutting Fresh Pasta

Now that you've made the pasta dough, you probably want to do something with it. Sure, it looks cute on the counter but, it'll be tastier as actual pasta. I learned a lot since the first time I used a pasta roller, so it's been getting easier, and more fun, for me.

Attach your pasta roller to your work surface. Divide the dough into eight portions. (If you're good you can do it in six portions. I just have a tough time dealing with the dough once its gets too long.) Work with one portion at a time, keeping the others covered in plastic wrap or under the inverted bowl.

Flatten the dough portion with your hands to make a roughly rectangular shape, about 5 inches long. Pass the dough through the rollers at it's widest setting without pulling or stretching it at the other end. Drape the dough over your hands as much as you can. Using your thumbs risks puncturing the dough.

Lightly dust one side of the strip with semolina flour (you wondered where that was coming in to recipe, didn't you). Fold the dough strip into thirds, like a letter, folding the new flour inside and making a rectangular shape. Feed the dough strip through the roller at least six times, each time folding the dough, pressing out the air, passing it through the rollers, and dusting with semolina flour.

Set the rollers to the next notch. Flour the strip lightly on both sides and pass it through the roller without folding. A fairly well-shaped rectangle will form. Fix any breaks by pinching the pasta together.

Feed the dough through the rollers, once on each remaining setting. If the dough starts to stick, dust it with flour again. If you're making a thicker noodle, such as spaghetti or fettuccine, only go up to the next to the last setting.

Lay the strips on dry dish towels for five to ten minutes, keeping them covered with more towels, until the dough is slightly dry. Don't leave it for too long or it will make it hard to cut. Because I have a small kitchen, I'll drape towels, and the rolled pasta, over the backs of my kitchen chairs instead of taking up the much needed counter space.

Cutting the Pasta

To be cut properly, Fresh rolled pasta must be slightly dry, but not too dry. If it's too dry, the pasta will become brittle and break apart when you cut it. Work quickly so you can avoid this problem. If the pasta dough is drying too quickly, cover it with a slightly damp dishtowel while it's waiting for you to cut it.

Most rollers have cutter attachments of varying widths, making this part easy. If the dough sticks in the cutting rollers (it's not dry enough), dust it with a little flour. Conversely, if it's too brittle and the cutter won't grab the dough, try cutting off the edge of the dough to get rid of the most brittle part.

And even simpler way to cut fresh pasta is to fold it up and cut it in long pieces with a chef's knife to whatever thickness you want. Pappardelle is about an inch wide. Taggliatelle (or fettuccine) are about 1/4 inch wide. Fettuccia Riccia are as wide as papperdelle, just rolled as thick as fettuccine. Quadrucci, which is great in broth based soups, is just taggliatelle cut into little squares.

Maltagliati (literally “badly cut”) are irregularly shaped hand made noodles. Using a sharp knife, cut the fresh pasta into strips, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Next, cut these strips into triangles or diamond shapes. They don't have to be perfect. That's the whole point of “badly cut.”

Pretty fluted edges can be made by cutting the pasta with a fluted pastry wheel. To make farfalle (bowtie), use a fluted wheel to cut pappardelle, and then cut the noodle across into 2 inch lengths. Pinch each one in the middle to form little bows.

Cook, sauce, and enjoy!

1 comment:

Mike H. said...

I've got to get my daughter to your blog. She can't live without pasta.