15 June 2010

pasta makin'

My first jobs were in food service -- one in an italian family restaurant, the other at a frozen custard stand (m'mm delicious). The italian restaurant was a real learning experience, one of those jobs where you end up working almost every available position (whether directly or out of necessity) during your time there. Hell, I was even considered "senior staff" at 16.

I started off as the only female busser back when the restaurant first opened and we were on 2 hour waits each night. Within a week or two, I was doubling as busser and host, then server, add bartender, helping with the books, acting as fill-in dishwasher and helper cook when needed, to running the failed bakery experiment. I saw that restaurant through years of transition, from its most successful times to the day we shut the door. Over my time there I learned how to make gnocchi, soups, cannolis, breads, other italian delicacies, but never pasta somehow.

Now, I know that pasta is not expensive at the store, and for the headache making fresh pasta can be, it may not be worth it. I still wanted to try ... and armed with my italian hand-crank pasta maker, my handy dandy apron, a bottle of wine and a free Friday night, I decided to give it a whirl. Next time, I'll get more adventurous than egg fettuccine, but hell, I was hungry. :)

Homemade Egg Fettuccine
2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Create a well with the flour on your counter. Crack the eggs into the well, add the olive oil and salt, and slowly mix in the flour with your fingers without breaking the well and causing a kitchen catastrophe. (My opinion, if you're going to make homemade pasta, you might as well mix by hand and have some fun, right?)

Once the dough comes together, begin to knead until it's elastic. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour, or a bit of water if its the opposite. Trust your instinct.

Once the dough is elastic, cut into 4 pieces and begin rolling through the pasta machine, decreasing the thickness of the rollers each time. Add flour if needed. Look at that pretty machine ...

Then drape it like old school wet laundry to dry on a clothesline ... or in this case, a pasta drying rack (I have a lot of cooking gadgets and toys).

Let it dry for a little bit so it can firm up. Then run it through the fettuccine roller and cut the pasta.

Fresh pasta takes only a few minutes to cook, much faster than store-brought pasta. Be careful not to overcook. Overcooking this after all this work is not fun at all. Unfun to the max.

Now, I wasn't going to eat naked noodles. That'd just be silly. And like I said above, I was Hungry with a capital H. So earlier when I started this process, I also put some sauce to work on the stove.

The magic ragu began with some sauteed garlic in olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, a can of crushed tomatoes and a can of stewed tomatoes, some rehydrated porcini mushrooms and it's broth (plus half a mushroom bouillon cube I had. That stuff is MAGIC, btw. I digress), a bay leaf, some extra spices and oh ... country ribs. You know, because I can.

In all seriousness though, once the sauce had simmered throughout this whole pasta making process, the pork was falling off the bone, shredding itself into the sauce. Perfecto.

(Learned that trick by making Gourmet's Sunday Ragu ... m'mm pot 'o stewed braised meat, how I love you so. m'mm. // drool.)

Mix the two together and voila! Homemade egg fettuccine with a pork and mushroom ragu.


stacy said...

Again, I am awed and impressed, this looks sooooo good. Now going to look up how much a pasta attachment costs for my Kitchenaid!

kaythaney said...

:) thanks stacy!