(More) Misadventures in Pasta Making

December 29, 2007

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Santa was very kind to me in the kitchen department this year. As you’ll see in a slew of upcoming posts, I was lucky enough to receive a host of cooking implements. One such gift was clearly in response to one of my recent kitchen failures. One weekend this fall, we endeavored to make our own ravioli. Well, the fillings we created were delicious, but the pasta itself was a disaster. I had read in a few places that it was entirely possible to roll out pasta sheets for ravioli by hand. Well, it might be possible, but it certainly didn’t occur when I tried it. Most of the raviolis ended up in the trash (Kevin was kind enough to eat a few, but I couldn’t take more than one). Santa must have known about this disaster and, in response, he got me this:

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It’s not quite as scary looking as our potato-ricer-disguised-as-torture-device, but it’s definitely a somewhat ominous-looking contraption. It’s a pasta-making Kitchen Aid attachment. Various inserts allow you to make linguine, spaghetti, fettucine and even sheets of pasta. I spent quite a bit of time perusing the instruction manual and the reviews of the attachment online. Let’s just say that they didn’t exactly ease my fears. In what I thought was an effort to increase our chances of success, I decided to use Kitchen Aid’s pasta recipe included in the instruction booklet and the least risky-looking of the inserts, which promised to yield a thick spaghetti strand. Well, thick it was. And also completely bizarre looking:

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Using the machine itself was a challenge. After mixing and kneading the pasta, we began feeding the dough into the attachment in walnut-sized bits, following the instructions. And when I say “we,” I mean it. Using this thing kind of reminded me of assembling Ikea furniture: half-way through the instruction manual full of user-friendly photos depicting two people assembling a dresser you turn the page and–bam!–suddenly there are three people in the photo with the dresser. Likewise, this pasta attachment requires at least two people. At least it does if you want to remain halfway sane during the process.

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The difficulty and odd-looking results aside, the pasta was actually really tasty. Especially tossed in two of the three sauces I’d prepared for the evening. You see, my sister was spending the night with us. Her Friday nights typically involve stories along the lines of: “When that place closed we went to X and when X closed we finished off the night at Y. Oh and we stopped off for some food at Z on the way home.” So the least I could do to entertain her on a Friday night in with old, boring married people was create a “bar” of three sauces ready and waiting to douse our weird, but homemade!, pasta strands.

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Kevin’s choice was carbonara, a sauce I know he loves (cream, bacon and eggs: shocking that a sauce featuring these ingredients floats his boat, I know). Ali opted for a spicy tomato-and-sausage sauce, with a touch of cream. I went for a porcini mushroom sauce (any time I make myself something that Kevin won’t be eating, it’s a safe bet that it will involve mushrooms). Ali’s and Kevin’s sauces were both really good–I’d recommend them both without reservation. Mine, on the other hand, was not great–runny, bland and, frankly, a waste of $10 worth of dried porcinis. And after my trials and tribulations with the Kitchen Aid, I needed something great. Fortunately, our dessert (recipe and photos coming soon) more than made up for it.

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Basic Egg Noodle Pasta
Kitchen Aid

3 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Break eggs into a glass measuring cup. Add water. Carefully check to see that the total liquid amount is 3/4 cup. If less than 3/4 cup, add additional water 1 teaspoon at a time until that amount is reached.

Place flour in a bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater [to a KitchenAid stand mixer]. Turn to speed 2 and gradually add eggs and water. Mix for 30 seconds. Stop mixer and exchange dough hook for flat beater. Turn to speed 2 and knead for 2 minutes.

Remove mixture from bowl and hand knead for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 15 minutes before extruding through Pasta Maker.

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Carbonara Sauce
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick and cut into 1-inch strips
1 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
1 large egg yolk

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain the pancetta in a strainer over a bowl; reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat.Add the cream to the skillet and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Grind black pepper into the cream, then add in the Parmesan and the 1/2 cup of pecorino, stirring until the cheese has blended into the cream, about 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and let cool. Whisk in the egg yolk, pancetta and the reserved pancetta fat.Toss cooked pasta in the sauce and serve.

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Spicy Tomato & Sausage Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fennel, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if desired)
2 links spicy Italian sausage, casing remove
1/2 cup red wine
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with their juices
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for several minutes. Add the sausage and, using a wooden spoon, crumble and brown the sausage. Once the sausage is browned, add the red wine and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. Just before adding the cooked pasta to the sauce, add the heavy whipping cream and stir to incorporate. Add the pasta, toss and serve.

3 Responses to “(More) Misadventures in Pasta Making”

  1. agda Says:

    So that’s a pasta attachment… Oh, dear!!! I always thought it was a meat grinder.


  2. agda: My parents have the meat grinder attachment and it does look very similar. We haven’t used this attachment since we got this contraption, which also looks like a torture device, but results in much more beautiful and delicious pasta.

  3. Kathy Walker Says:

    The photo looks like a grinder. My kitchenaid pasta attachment looks much different. 3 attachments — one makes sheets about 4 inches wide, the other 2 – one is fettucine, other is spaghetti. I got them as a set from Amazon for about $120. Love it.


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