I am officially banned from buying any more kitchen gadgets in my house. When I complain Meat-and-Three-Veg points to the slow cooker, rice cooker, ice-cream maker and pasta machine which all sit in a cupboard which only gets occasionally opened. But I am on the path to reform where the pasta machine is concerned thanks to an invitation to a master class in making pasta – the secrets of which I am going to share with you.
My teacher was Piera Benini at Olivigna. I’ve already posted about the class itself but to recap: what Piera doesn’t know about pasta isn’t worth knowing. She started making pasta when she was only six years old, explaining to us that a child’s fingers are perfect for shaping tortellini.
Thanks to Piera I learnt you need some good initial construction to make great pasta. You need to start out by making a “well” in a mound of flour and cracking your eggs into that. Then very gradually you mix the eggs in.
The other main tip I picked up was to knead the pasta dough for much longer than you think. When it seems like it is ready, it’s still not ready and needs some more work. I had clearly been slacking off in my pasta making. Now to dust off that pasta machine.
- 300g Italian "00" flour
- 3 eggs
- (If you want to make more or less pasta just keep the ratio of 100g flour to 1 egg).
- 1. Make a mound of the flour on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre of the mound and crack the eggs into the centre of the mound.
- 2. Use a fork to gently whisk the eggs while using your other hand to secure the outer walls of the flour. Continue whisking, gradually drawing in the flour as you go until the dough becomes thick.
- 3. Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead the dough by pushing forward with the palm of your hand until the dough is smooth, elastic and "perfecto". This will take longer than you think, about 10 minutes by hand or you can cheat and use the dough attachment on your Kitchenaid or similar machine.
- 4. Shape the dough into a disc and coat lightly with flour. There's no need to rest the dough.
- 5. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten each portion and roll it out. Set the pasta machine on the widest setting and coat the pasta rollers lightly in flour. Feed 1 portion of dough through the machine. Repeat this adjusting the pasta machine each time until it is thinner and thinner and you reach the second thinnest setting. Massage the dough with flour between each turn as this will help the pasta grip to the dough.
- 6. Now you can either cut the pasta by hand or using the setting on the pasta machine. Sprinkle with flour and lay out on a large tray or board.
- Don't put the pasta in the fridge before cooking. You can leave it out on a board or tray for 3 to 4 days if needs be.