With fresh pasta you can make something magnificent with very little at hand. With only 2 eggs and a handful of 00 flour you can make a meal for two. Or 10 eggs and 1kg of flour you can make a meal for 10 people. Fresh pasta is a lesson in frugality, practice and patience. It is wholesome and satisfying when made with quality ingredients by your own hands with love. I know it sounds clique when speaking of Italian food, but as it turns out it is true.
The texture of hand rolled noodles is far superior to that of a machine. Hand rolling gives the noodles character, resistance, and resilience. The texture of the wooden rolling pin imprints on the pasta giving the sauce a chance to cling to the noodles. Pasta machines have smooth rollers and therefore impart a smooth texture to the noodles. Rolling out pasta by hand takes no longer than by a hand cranked machine and has the benefit of less cleanup.
Of course you can use a pasta machine to roll out the dough as I have done in the past but after I watched this amazing video (in Italian which I don’t speak a word of) I gave hand rolling a go. I didn’t have a long pasta rolling pin like in the video so I improvised and made a trip to the hardware store to buy a long wooden dowel. I wish that I could buy eggs with dark orange yolks like in Italy, they give the pasta a gorgeous golden colour. The tricks are to have dough that is the right consistency not too sticky or too stiff, use the minimum amount of flour when rolling, and use fluid hand/arm motions when rolling (as shown in the video). The rolling motion uses gentle pressure and stretches the dough from the center out without mashing the dough down with force.
After rolling cut your noodles by dusting the pasta with flour, fold it up, then cut crosswise with a knife to your desired width. Then place the noodles on a tray dusted with semolina or polenta and air dry for 10-20 minutes. This helps keep the noodles from sticking together. Boil for 2 minutes maximum in salted water, when they start floating they are ready. Toss with the sauce immediately and serve.
1 large egg per person
80 – 100g double zero flour per egg
Make a well with the flour, add the eggs to the center of the well. Beat the eggs with a fork. Incorporate the flour into the egg using a fork and knead for 10 – 15 minutes. Depending on humidity you may need more flour. I always start with the smaller quantity and add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Wrap tightly in plastic and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Roll out to desired thickness.
1 rasher of bacon, cut in strips
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 dried chili pepper, crushed (optional)
1 fresh bay leaf
500 g ground meat (I used a mixture of beef and pork)
1 small glass of wine (red or white)
1 tin of tomato paste
500 ml water
salt to taste
In a heavy bottom pot add the bacon and olive oil, cook over medium heat until the bacon is half cooked. Add the chopped vegetables, cook until the onion is translucent. Add the ground meat and cook until brown and sizzling. Add the chili pepper, bay leaf and wine. Cook until the wine is evaporated. Add the tomato paste and water. Simmer partly covered for 2 to 3 hours and season to taste.