Weekend Pasta Report: Success!

Weekend Pasta Report: Success!

Emma Christensen
Jan 13, 2009

We expected a bit of trial and error, perhaps a snafu or two. We hoped we'd end up with some good pasta, or at least a good story to share with you. Never did we imagine that making pasta would be so...well...easy!

We only made straight egg pasta a few times in culinary school, and I always remember it being a very laborious process. I'm guessing those memories are slightly colored by the general anxiety and sleep-deprivation I was experiencing those days. Plus, my personal standard of excellence is probably a bit lower than my chef-instructor's...

From start to finish, making this pasta took us about an hour and a half, including 30 minutes in the middle to rest the dough. I mixed the dough and kneaded it by hand, used a hand-cranked roller to make the pasta sheets, and then hand-cut the pasta into wide pappardelle-esque noodles. During cooking, the noodles floated to the top very quickly, but I let them boil for a few extra minutes to cook out the raw taste.

My guests and I ate about half the noodles straight out of the bowl with just butter and salt, but managed to save enough for dinner. These noodles were irresistibly chewy and made a nice backdrop to the beef stew we served as our main course. So good. We'll definitely be making pasta more often from now on!

Here are some afterthoughts:

• Have everything set out. We had the roller at one end of the counter with the cutting board right beside it. A sheetpan waited at the very end for the finished pasta. We had our tub of flour right in the middle for easy access at all times.

• Once you start to roll out the pasta, use more flour than you think you need. I stressed this in our tutorial last Friday, but apparently I have trouble following my own advice - there were a few close calls with sheets of pasta sticking to itself while waiting to be cut into ribbons!

• Work in small batches. This is also something that we mentioned last week, but I think it bears repeating. It would be easy to look at the little softball-sized piece of dough in your hand and think, "Ah, heck. Why not do it all in one go?" But that dough stretches out a lot. Even working with a quarter of the dough at a time, by the time we got to the thinner settings, we had two feet of pasta lying on our counter!

• If you're using a hand-crank pasta roller like ours, it really helps to have another person. I started off by myself, but quickly called in reinforcements to help turn the crank and feed the dough through the machine. Boy, do I miss those fancy Kitchenaid pasta attachments from culinary school...

• It's not necessary to always go down to the thinnest setting. We rolled our pasta to the second-to-last setting, and I would have liked it a little thicker. As a side note, I also would have liked the noodles a little shorter, but I think getting the hang of that will just be trial and error.

Did anyone else make pasta this weekend? How did it go?

Related: Dry Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta: What's the Difference?

(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)

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