Sunday, July 27, 2008

Feeling Pici

A few days after our return, Monkey and I decided to make our own pasta. Truth be told, I had been planning on making pasta before our trip, but, I never made the time for it. In all truthfulness, it was pretty easy. It took a long time, and, as usual, we learned a few things along the way (which I will reveal to you). It was a pleasurable culinary experience.

The recipe (from The Food Network) is pretty simple:

2 cups semolina flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups water

After mixing the two flours in a bowl (although the ultra traditionalist would simply scramble it all together on a table top), we made a little hole for the water, which we poured in a little at a time, until we had a consistent dough (we used all of our water, but, you might only need one cup).

After you have your ball o' dough, it's time to do a bit of physical labor. You need to knead your dough for about ten minutes on a floured surface. This should make you sweat a little bit. If it doesn't, you ain't doing it right!

Let the dough rest (covered) for ten minutes. After which, it's time to roll the dough into noodles. Mario's recipe suggests rolling out your dough into long dowels, but we just broke off a hunk and went to work. It was a chore, but, once you get the hang of it, it goes pretty smoothly. Your noodles will be THICK, maybe thicker than you think they should be, but, that's okay.

As you finish each noodle, you should put it on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina. DON'T let the noodles touch (unless you dust them well, too). And don't do what we did, which was roll up the noodles into little spirals (unless you dust them really well). Because, unfortunately, when it came time to put the noodles in the boiling water, we kind of had a few pasta pinwheels that we had to either throw out or manhandle back into a strand.

The pasta needs to cook for about 20-25 minutes. Keep checking it for al dente-ness. When it is finished, toss it with a good, hearty sauce, like a garlic sauce or a meat sauce. We used a garlic-heavy marinara-type sauce. It was okay that evening, but, because the pici soaks up the sauce so vigorously, it was even better the next day.

We neglected to take any pics of the finished product (special thanks to Monkey, Official Pici Adventure Photographer). A gross oversight on our part, but, we won't forget next time. We plan on trying our hand at some orecchiette next!


comoprozac said...

You need one of those pasta crank things that turns the dough into linguine or spaghetti or whatever. Nice.

La Fashionista said...

Wow! This is inspiring and mouth-watering. I've never tried this but have heard that one of the important considerations is where to hang the pasta after it is made but prior to cooking.

I've also always wanted to try this:

I like how it tells you not to use a cross-cut shredder. Duh.

Wonderful inspiration, both for future cooking endeavors and for me to add a cooking-related post to my own blog!


sunshine said...

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Italian Blog, though I admit I often ended up very hungry at the end. And I very much liked reading about the pasta making. I feel so pedestrian that I just make sauce- I may have to step it up a bit now.
I’m looking forward to more cooking installments- bon appetit!

ATR said...

One of the coveted heirlooms in my family is my grandmother's hand-cranked pasta machine. My brother has it. It makes the job a little easier, but, considering how often I make pasta (about once every forty years), I think I'll stick to hand-making it. Besides, I couldn't use it to make pici anyway...and, I'd still have to do the sweaty part (i.e., kneading).

By the same token, I think I would steer clear of the shredder pasta maker, but, did you notice the link to "How to Make a Hand-cranked Paper Shredder"? Great, a page that shows you how to make a pasta maker out of a shreeder and a shredder out of a pasta maker. That is rad.

Thanks for the comments and compliments!