_COVER Mastering Pasta

I’d like to use Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri‘s new book to rejoice in pasta. It’s called Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto I love pasta! Carbs! Bring them on! How have we brought this upon ourselves? This Anti-Carb Nation. This Gluten-Fearing Country. If I were texting this, I would conclude with my avatar and the new Bitmoji offering: Cray-Cray! (I admit to spending too much time trying to create entire narratives with my Bitmoji avatar.)

Seriously, it’s time for us to TAKE BACK OUR PASTA!

Vetri’s book (written with the excellent David Joachim) is a fine place to start, with everything you need to know about pasta and making it and shaping it. Indeed, I especially liked the chapter on hand-shaped pastas, probably because I will never spend three hours shaping lorighittas for a dinner party; the how-to photos are clear and useful.

In Ratio, I give a basic whole egg pasta proportion: 3 parts flour, 2 parts egg. This makes mixing pasta a snap if you have a scale: 1 large egg (2 ounces) and 3 ounces of flour per portion. It’s even easier if you use my Ratio app (which has been redesigned for the new iOS operating system and new phones): Crack the eggs into a bowl, punch in their weight, and the flour is calculated automatically.

And here is the reason you should bother: Because you can’t buy homemade pasta. Even the fresh stuff at the grocery store isn’t anything like what happens on your kitchen counter when dough comes together. It’s one of those few preparations that you simply can’t buy and bring home—like, for instance, mayonnaise.

Below is Marc’s egg-yolk pasta, which includes durum flour, a higher-protein flour. He also includes 00 flour, very finely ground Italian flour. But the recipe works fine with all-purpose. (Marc, why no weights? Shame on you!)

His pasta is so good it’s what Michael Symon included in the Michael Symon cookbook, Marc’s egg-yolk pasta, because, Symon told me, “It’s perfect.”

Take back our pasta! (Want more carbs?! He also includes chapters on Risotto and Gnocchi.)

Callout Comment from Darcie below (because I found it so interesting and apt):

It’s amazing to me how quickly so many culinary skills have been lost. Just a couple of generations ago everyone knew how to make egg pasta. I remember helping my grandmother using her Atlas “noodle maker” (my family is German so we didn’t call it pasta) when I was a young girl. Making egg noodles was part of the chicken butchering process, as you had to do something with the eggs that were still inside the chicken!

I’m a bit of an anomaly since I grew up in a very rural area, but even there, virtually no one makes homemade pasta anymore. In less than 40 years, it’s gone from a basic skill to an exotic hobby. I fervently hope that books like this make it more commonplace, but I fear that people don’t want to take time from tweeting to make it themselves. (Does that make me a curmudgeon?)


Egg Yolk Dough

  • 170 grams or 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons tipo 00 flour or 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 55 grams or 7 tablespoons durum flour
  • 9 egg yolks (160 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
  1. Combine both flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or mix together the flours on a work surface and make a well in the center. On medium speed, or with your fingers, add the egg yolks, oil, and water, adding them one ingredient at a time and mixing just until the dough come together, 2 to 3 minutes. If necessary, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, for the dough to come together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it feels silky and smooth, about 5 minutes, kneading in a little tipo 00 flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. The dough is ready if when you stretch it with your hands, it gently pulls back into place.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball, then flatten the ball into a disk. Cover the dough and set it aside for at least 30 minutes or wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 months. (Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator before using it. Alternatively, thaw it quickly in a microwave oven on 50 percent power in 5-second increments, just until cool to the touch.)
  4. To roll out the dough, cut it into 4 equal pieces. If you have a very long work surface, you can cut the dough into fewer pieces. Let the pieces sit, covered, at room temperature for 10 minutes if chilled. The dough should be cool but not cold. Shape each piece into an oval wide enough to fit the width of your pasta roller. Lightly flour your work surface and set the pasta roller to its widest setting. Lightly flour 1 piece of dough, pass it through the roller, and then lightly dust the rolled dough with flour, brushing off the excess with your hands. Pass the dusted dough through the widest setting again. Set the roller to the next narrowest setting and pass the dough through, dusting again with flour and brushing off the excess. Pass once again through the roller. Fold the dough in half lengthwise over itself and cut about 1/4 inch (6 mm) off both corners at the fold. This folding and cutting helps to create an evenly wide sheet of dough.
  5. Continue passing the dough once or twice through each progressively narrower setting. For thicker pasta like corzetti, chitarra, pappardelle, fettuccine, and taggliatelle, you want to roll the dough about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick—setting 2 or 3 on a KitchenAid attachment, or about as thick as a thick cotton bed sheet. For sheet pastas like lasagna and cannelloni, you want to roll it a little thinner, just under 1/8 inch (2 mm) thick, and for rotolo thinner still, about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick—setting 4 or 5 on a KitchenAid attachment, or about as thick as a cotton bed sheet. For ravioli, you want to roll the pasta a little thinner, to about 1/32 inch (0.8 mm) thick or setting 6 or 7 on a KitchenAid; ravioli sheets should generally be thin enough to read a newspaper through. As you roll and each sheet gets longer and more delicate, drape the sheet over the backs of your hands to easily feed it through the roller. You should end up with a sheet 2 to 5 feet (61 cm to 1.5 m) long, 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) wide, and 1/8 to 1/32 inch (3 to 0.8 mm) thick, depending on your roller and the pasta you are making.
  6. To cut the pasta sheet into the pasta shape for the dish you are making, lay it on a lightly floured work surface and use a cutting wheel or knife, or the cutter attachment on the pasta machine. If you want to hold the pasta after cutting it, dust it with flour, cover it, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or freeze it in a single layer, transfer the frozen pasta to a zipper-lock bag, and freeze it for up to 1 month. Take the pasta straight from the freezer to the boiling pasta water. That’s what i usually do.


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© 2015 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2015 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.