Notes on pasta-making, or: what’s been keeping me in the kitchen lately.

If you aren’t following Kara Brown’s Fancy Pasta Bitch blog, you absolutely must—she was one of my favorite writers at Jezebel, and now she’s a staff writer on the Black-ish spinoff Grownish on Freeform*. She took up pasta making as a new hobby to cope with that man and his heinous administration and started blogging about it because it’s fun to write about a new hobby as you start to learn the ins and outs of it. She doesn’t update it nearly as much as I would like (which is rich coming from me, given that I haven’t updated here in ages) but when she does, delightfulness ensues.

There’s something inherently awesome about making pasta from scratch—I really didn’t appreciate it until last May when I spent much of the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day making tortellini completely from scratch, and since then I’ve all but eschewed boxed pasta to make my own dough whether for a quick weeknight meal or for a more ambitious project. (The fact that I can whip up some dough to make a reasonably fast weeknight meal is notable in of itself.) I’ve been even able to school my half-Italian/half-Sicilian mother-in-law on the art of making pasta via the well method, as for a long time whenever she made her homemades she’d lug out the big KitchenAid mixer in order to make the dough. For a long time this was how we would make our dough too, and while it’s certainly easy, there’ something inherently more pleasing about bringing about a mess of flour, eggs, and oil with your own bare hands.

Since that holiday weekend last year, I’ve been experimenting with a lot of doughs from several cookbooks. Massimo Bottura’s two-egg and 00 flour recipe is still one of my absolute go-tos, especially when I want a small amount of pasta for myself during the week and I’m cooking for one. I still get some leftovers, but not a massive amount.

Since then, though, I’ve finally branched out into the world of many-egg-yolk doughs. On a lark last Christmas I added Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta to my Amazon wishlist and my brother ended up giving it to me. (I can’t exactly pinpoint how, but I do believe that my brother, a ride-or-die Philadelphia sports fan, giving me a copy of this book by the acclaimed Philly chef, set into motion a series of events that culminated with me making Vetri’s garagnelli with Bolognese on Super Bowl Sunday and the Eagles miraculously beating the Patriots.) His doughs usually call for 9-10 eggs and/or egg yolks, and the dough that you get at the end of that can only be described as sumptuous. It glides through a pasta machine’s rollers like a dream, holds what ever shape you put it in perfectly, and (of course) tastes out of this fucking world. I don’t make it all the time because even though it’s just flour and (a lot of) eggs, it feels extravagant and half of our fridge would be bags of egg whites.

A few weeks after trying Vetri’s recipe I gave Bryan Voltaggio’s spin on the 9-egg dough a whirl. He has you use the whole egg rather than just the yolk, and adds in some milk as well. Originally this was going to be a squid-ink pasta but I couldn’t find any sachets of it so we just rolled with it, and while the pasta was good, the dough was much shaggier and difficult to bring together. I’ll reserve full judgement for when I eventually give the squid ink pasta recipe a whirl, because I do like trying recipes that win Top Chef elimination challenges.

More recently, while thumbing through Puglia looking for dinner inspiration for when Michael would be away, I stumbled across an all-semolina dough that only came together with an unspecified amount of warm water. The dough itself was pretty easy to make, but rolling it out was kind of awful because it stuck to evertything and anything, especially itself. It’s not really a dough that is suitable to make when you’re on your own, but it does make me want to revisit some of the other pasta recipes in that book.

So this is basically a long-winded yarn about how I’ve been making a lot of pasta in the last year, and that it’s been pretty awesome, and I’m going to devote some actual posts to dive into greater detail on my experiences, including some rather ridiculous-yet-awesome accessories that have snuck into my kitchen drawers as a result of this preoccupation.


*Of all the names Disney could have gone with to replace the name ABC Family, that was the best they could come up with? I still can’t get over that. I’m also still kind of shocked that they managed to get out of Pat Robertson’s edict that the word “family” must be in the name of the channel no matter who owns it.

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