Thursday, January 11, 2007

Semolina Dough for Flat Pasta

Last summer my mother in law took me to a cooking demonstration and tasting. One of the highlights of the evening was rolling fresh pasta. I took my little bundle home, and served it with some simple red sauce. Absolutely delicious. Anyway, while I was at the demonstration, I asked the chef about the pasta recipe. He told me he used a recipe from Paul Bertolli's Cooking By Hand. It's a beautiful book, full of instructions on preparing all sorts of lovely (and not so lovely- how to butcher and prepare your own whole pig) italian things. So I was very eager to receive this book for Christmas, pull our dusty pasta machine out of the cupboard and get to work. I chose to prepare the Semolina Dough for Flat Pasta, and was a little disappointed with the results. I carefully measured the ingredients, and kneaded the dough by hand. It did form a nice little springy ball. I let it sit for about 3 hours, then cut it into 6 pieces, flattened the pieces, and fed them each through my machine, adding enough flour so they wouldn't stick. Here is where I think I went wrong first. I started on the #2 setting, rolled #4, then #6, ending with a really thin pasta. Then I used the angel hair cutter. Mistake number 2. I let the pasta dry out a little, then started a big pot of water with enough salt to taste like the sea. I let the water come to a boil, then dumped my pasta in and (mistake #3) let it cook too long. I drained it, and added it to the sauce. It was very tasty, but a mushy mess. I don't know if you've ever overcooked fresh pasta before, but you end up kind of cutting it out of the serving bowl in chunks. My brother in law came to dinner that night, and was very kind, finishing every last strand with my dear husband. Although this was a bit disappointing, my fresh pasta days have just begun! -and I will cook again. Next time, though, I think I'll follow the directions.

Semolina Dough for Flat Pasta
For 4
Serve with a simple tomato sauce or with meat, poultry, or game sugo, the depth of flavor of which is best carried by pasta with a substantial bite and sturdiness.

10 ounces extra fancy semolina
4 ounces cool water
Pour the water into a bread bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer. While mixing with a fork or the mixer's paddle attachment, pour the water into the center of the dough. When the flour begins to clump, start gathering and kneading the dough by hand. Continue to knead the dough until it loses its stiffness, is well incorporated with the water. feels smooth when and bounces back when depressed. Wrap the dough in plastric and set it aside to hydrate for 1 1/2 hours. Roll the pasta once through the next to last setting of a pasta machine and cut it to a width of your choosing.

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