Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hand-made Pasta

Making hand-made pasta truly is an art in and of itself. However, the main ingredient is simply patience. When I teach my students how to make pasta, I will demo how to make the dough by hand (which takes a tremendous amount of time), as well as how to make the dough in the food processor (saves at least 20 minutes!) Why both techniques? When I was attending culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, using machines (hand-held blenders, food processors, etc.) were simply prohibited. Our Parisian chefs wanted us to appreciate the entire cooking process… from start to finish, using our own two hands. Chefs have been creating food for thousands of years without significant amount of technology… ergo, allowing us to “bond” with chefs of yesteryear. Another bonus? The muscles that were developed as we would hand beat our egg whites, whipped creams and plethora of sauces/batters. “I-I-I, I work outtt.”

Now, for the home-cook, do I recommend making the pasta dough by hand every time? If one has the time, sure! But in reality, how many of us have 30 minutes to simply stand and mix flour, salt, eggs, oil and herbs (if desired)? Taking the time to make hand-made pasta is impressive enough… so chose which “battles to fight” in terms of time and op for the food processor when making the dough. Allow dough to rest between 10minutes and up to one hour before rolling when a pasta-roller. Be sure, when beginning to roll dough, that your hands are “floured” with a light dusting of flour (in order to prevent the dough from sticking to your digits). When rolling the dough, begin at “0” and roll each level two times (ex: roll dough at level 0, then level 0 again. Roll dough at level 1, then repeat). For ravioli, I recommend stopping after rolling the dough twice at level 5. Sometimes one can even progress to level 6, but do not roll the dough too thin, as it will be too delicate to hold the filling. Angel hair? One can roll the dough thinner, as it does not have to be as robust… it does not have a filling to secure. After rolling dough to desired thickness, allow to “dry out” for about 15 minutes before cooking. Place in boiling salt water and cook until al dente (depending on what type of pasta and the thickness, about 5-7-10 minutes roughly).

Excess pasta may be frozen… simply roll out the pasta and cut into desired type of pasta (angel hair, spaghetti, linguini, ravioli, etc.) Place in an air-tight container with a dusting of excess flour (in order to prevent the dough from sticking to itself). May be frozen for up to two months; however, best when served the same-day as prepared.

I was so incredibly proud of my students when teaching class at Sur Le Table over the weekend… they did a brilliant job rolling the pasta because they were patient and willing to learn. Creative dishes can be attributed to confidence… which is gained only through experience in the kitchen. The passion and joy of cooking are beautiful when shared. When I was in “chef mode,” coming out of culinary school, I never wanted people to watch me cook… I think in part, I was intimidated because I did not have the experience, nor confidence to know what I was doing. However, now I am energized and grateful to be able to teach. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cook… introduce him to a lifetime of learning, challenging himself, sharing with others and savoring, literally, life.

Love y’all! ♥

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