Monday, March 28, 2011

Hand Cut Noodles

Every once in a while, it's time to learn something new. You spent years of your life in school, learning all the time, started working and had to learn even more (usually nothing to do with what you actually studied in school), and finally you reach a point in your life where you're the expert and teacher. That's when it's time to humble yourself by buying a pasta maker.

I must have been delusional when I thought I could make pasta on a weeknight, after working out, when I was ready to eat almost as soon as I walked in the door. Here's what I thought: Mix some dough, run it through the pasta maker to flatten it, run it through the spaghetti cutter attachment, throw it in some boiling water and it's cooked in two minutes. Thirty, forty minutes tops.

Clearly I had never made my own pasta before.

The first problem was that I had no idea what the consistency of my dough should be. First it was too dry, then I made it too moist. It was sticking to everything. Once I got that sorted out, I ran it through the pasta maker attachment so it made a nice sheet of dough. And then I ran it through again and again and again, on finer settings each time. My dough stretched out into long, thin swatches, which I left laying around the kitchen on plates and cutting boards. Somehow a ball of pasta slightly larger than my fist made enough sheets to wallpaper my kitchen. Then I ran it through the spaghetti cutter attachment and got a long rope of dough with ridges in it. As soon as I tried to hold it, it smushed together again. Why was I imagining smooth, separate strands of spaghetti? When I finally gave up on that dream, I hand cut the rest of the dough into noodles and tossed them into boiling salted water. (Note that "hand cut noodles" are often a restaurant special. Now you know they evolved because the dough was sticking to the pasta maker and to itself.) The good news is that homemade pasta tastes great and super fresh!

Here I've tossed my hand cut noodles with broccoli and Italian sausage, a recipe from food52.

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