Coaching: Making Home Pasta.


If you have been following this blog for some time you know about my cook-o-therapy philosophy and judging from the comments on Discord I know that a ton of you are aware of my research project and pasta experiment to collect data for the project.

This post, is not about either of those things, although pretty close to the essence of my cook-o-therapy post in terms of pleasing the mind and the tummy at once. 

It all started when my colleagues Yuli and Sonia asked if I could share my knowledge in making homemade pasta. My team has a lovely "teach others" routine where we learn from one another with fun and dedication. Doing it remotely, as COVID keeps giving to the human race, makes it even more challenging and desirable at the same time. So this post is to coordinate the upcoming making of pasta together so that by the time we do it, people know what to do/expect. If any of the readers want to do it via the verb of the year, post in the comments or on Discord and I will get it setup.

It's one thing to teach how to be Bob Ross via tv (2D) and a whole another when what you are making (3D) requires multiple cameras angles to see the nuances of the process. But hey, nothing happens without some creativity, so let's begin.

Ingredients

Tools

You will need only one from the list below, they are ranked from easy to "why are you doing this to yourself" order.
  • Pasta machine 
    • this will make your life easier and the whole process a lot faster. This flats the dough and cuts it
  • Cutting wheel 
    • Without a pasta machine attachment you will need a wheel cutter to shape the pasta. If you don't have this, you can use a sharp knife.
  • Pin
    • This is to be used if you don't have a pasta machine. It's hardcore but hey who am I to judge, I do stupid things in production.
  • A stick or anything else to hold the pasta so it can dry

Sauce

Once the pasta is ready you will have to add some joyful taste to it and that can be done with one of the following:
Or any other option that doesn't make Alfredo come out of his grave. I will have a very limited amount of time to show the process so we are not going to make ravioli (super fun) 
Design

Release

  but tagliatelle.


Tagliatelle in development


Deployment for mother in law


Let's begin

Key tip: Don't worry about the quantities, go with what makes sense. If you add too much of something (like flour) than you need more of something else (like water). Start small so it is easier to get a hold it.

STEP 1: Make a baby volcano of flour


Use your hands and don't worry to get dirty. Just make sure that you have flour close by because it will be useful to grab some if your hands get too sticky. If you end up making this, you did it wrong :-)

You want to express your creativity and make this too but don't dig enough to see the bottom of the countertop like Sawyer did last time. It will make harder for the egg to blend with the flour.

STEP 2: Add eggs and oil

Once your masterpiece of the volcano is done, crack one egg in the center of your volcano if you have used a very little amount of flour, two if you feel that you want to feed wife and dog as well. I go with two regardless because I like it very yellowish. More yolk more colored pasta.

Mom's showing me how to do it
I was yelled during the process for speaking rather than silently emulating...

Don't crack the eggs with force otherwise you will drop chunks of eggshells inside the flour which are hard to retrieve. Use a knife to cause the first opening in the egg shell if that helps you but do it outside of the reach of the flour.

Add a little bit of oil, either before the eggs or on top of them, it's the same price. See the picture below.


STEP 3: Add salt
Drop a pinch of salt in the center of your volcano. A tiny bit not the whole enchiladas. It is just to allow the separation of the yolk and the white. If those egg terms sound alien to you, here's your baby Wikipedia on hand.

STEP 4: Start mixing
Grab one (any) edge of the volcano and pull half of the flour wall in the center, just to cover some part of the eggs. Keep one hand clean and with the other using your fingertips, poking the eggs to mix. With the "clean" hand you pull, gradually, more flour inside of your Hawaii monument. Don't rush otherwise the lava (white/yolk) will find its way out of the flour dome. Not a big deal but it will scare you. True story!

Keep mixing until the egg starts disappearing. Occasionally, brush one palm against the other using the external leftover of flour to dry/clean your hands. This is to improve your grip while you knead the dough.

STEP 5: Add water
Once you see that the egg start disappearing (absorbed by the flour) add gradually, a little bit of water. A little bit goes a long way, don't abuse otherwise the dough will never stop to be sticky. If it stays sticky after quite a bit, add some more flour and keep kneading the dough. 

As you keep working the dough you will end up with something like this (thanks Steven!)

STEP 6: Cut the dough
Slice the dough so to make small (1.5-inch think) chunks of dough.


Cover your Hannibal the cannibal work with a damp cloth. I use a lightly wet paper towel so I can just trash it away once done.

Set up your pasta machine at the corner of the countertop or if you using a pin, start flattening the dough.

Using your fingertips, flat the chunk of dough like shown below and start with the largest number on the dial of the machine and progressively reducing the number at every flatting iteration. Stop when you think it's thin enough for your taste. If you can see way too much through you know that you have gone too far, It fixable, just fold it all and try again.



You don't have to pray at it like my friend Rob


It's more like my friend Eugene and Tanya

Don't crank the handle like you are rushing to catch a bus. Keep a steady rhythm. If you crank at the speed of writing your annual performance review, you are making deep dents into the pasta because you are being too slow. And that can result in a non-promoting pasta method.


Don't pull the strip while you crank, just hold it up softly.


When it's all done, should look like the one below. Poor some flower on the countertop before laying the pasta, otherwise it will get stuck.



If you are using the wheel, start cutting strips to make the tagliatelle, a quarter of an inch is the maximum you should be thinking about, as the width of the strip. If you have the machine, well it's self-explanatory. 

You can hang them to dry or you can brush them into flour and make small little domes of pasta as long as they are well brushed of flour otherwise they will glue together and it will become an unusable blob.


If you don't know where to hang the pasta, use two chairs and the broomstick (clean the stick before using...)

Depends how long you went with your flattened strip of dough, if you end with something like this, you might want to use the wheel cutter to make the length more appropriate for your skills and pots capacity.


Once the strips are dry enough, start to boil some water, add a pinch of salt, and a drip of oil (helps to detach the flour) as soon the water boils it is time to drop your awesome cut and paste work. Don't throw them in, make them slide on the side of the pot.

If you make the pasta stay too long in the water an Italian will die, per serving of course. Every 2 minutes grab one tagliatella with a wood spoon or anything that doesn't transfer the eat to your lips, bite, and if you see just a flimsy inner layer of dry then you have reached Nirvana, it's al dente. If the inner layer is thick or very white, hold your horses. With store-bought pasta you have a time listed on the package, with your own pasta, you are the package.

Leave the pasta slightly undercooked so the rest of the cooking process is done when you mix your pasta with your favorite sauce for a couple of minutes. Enjoy!!









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