There is a long, painful history of less-than-stellar food rations provided to those serving in the military — and it seems the more modern the chow, the more unappealing it is. For instance, why would anyone think an omelette that's made shelf-stable for a full twelve months would be appetizing by the time some unfortunately soul unwraps it? It's certainly useful, but not without making some significant compromise with regard to culinary excellence.
No more! Now, Chef Sergeant Dodds will provide all the instruction necessary to escape the once-inevitable consumption of these sanitized, homogenized, mass-manufactured science projects provided by Uncle Sam, and instead take it back to the old-world classic: fresh pasta.
Assuming you are human, there's a fairly high chance that you've had pasta before. And assuming you're a young American, you probably don't have a ton of excess income to throw around on fine dining. Like any other historically peasant dish, pasta has humble roots that stretch way back — to ancient china, actually. This instruction, however, will focus on southern Italy's version.
Let's get to work:
What you'll need
All of these ingredients can be found in most grocery stores — and by "all," I mean three. Keeping it simple is a happy practice.
- 6 ounces (or 170 grams) of OO flour (Bread flour is fine, too. Durum flour is best, but can be hard to find)
- 6 ounces (or 170 grams) of Semolina flour
- 6.2 ounces (or 175 grams) of water
If you've got a cutting board, great. If you've got a rolling pin, excellent. If you have neither, don't worry — we've still got you covered.
That's it! Very simple.
Be sure to weigh/measure out all ingredients and have them standing by before you begin, otherwise it turns into a real sh*t show. No need to pass your flour through a sieve or anything; we're not baking a cake, this is full-on rustic.
Mix your dry ingredients
Mix the OO flour (or substitute) together with Semolina flour and put in a big pile. Then, with the bottom of a bowl or round dish, make a well. This will come into play for the next step.
Slowly incorporate your water
With a fork, mix together all ingredients while slowly pouring the pre-portioned water into the well. This is a very old technique that ensures the dough is brought together at the appropriate, gradual pace.
Some kneading needed
Get in there and start kneading — don't worry, it's actually really hard to overwork this dough. Your dough will be springy to the touch when finished.
Rest your dough
Wrap dough in plastic to keep moisture in and let it rest for 20 minutes. You'll notice a significant color change once enough time has passed.
Now comes the fun part: it's time to choose your own adventure based the shapes you wish to make. The steps you take from here depend, really, on what tools you have on hand. Whether you happen to have a high-end pasta roller, stamps, wheels, ravioli molds, or are working with jacksh*t, you can make some delicious pasta shapes.
Some examples to follow:
Don't have anything? Try fagiolini
They are a Southern Italian classic, imitating pea pods! This one goes quite well with any meaty, tomato-based sauce.
Simply roll out your dough, chop it into roughly 1-inch segments, roll those segments out some, and press each into your cutting board with your three middle fingers.
Happen to have a rolling pin and a ravioli stamp? Classic!
Feel free to use whatever filling you want, as long as it's not too wet! Stuffed pasta never tasted so good.
No stamp? Tagliatelle!
This one's a favorite for any carbonara or a substitute for fettuccine. Either way, pop it in the freezer when finished for easier handling. It'll keep in there for up to a week.
The options are endless
Take your pasta and cook it in large pot of boiling salty water until tender and delicious (the time will vary depending on the shape -- don't be afraid to try it). Most importantly, enjoy!
If you want some recipes for delicious sauces, other pasta shapes, or whatever else, let us know in the comments!