RECIPE: I’ve been wanting to make pasta for so long but felt it was too hard to get right. Recently I was able to get a pasta roller attachment for my Kenwood Chef (stand mixer) for a reduced price, so had to give it a go. Some time ago I bought the most recommended Italian cookbook I could find. This cookbook by Marcella Hazan doesn’t have photos or fancy styling, it just has in-depth advice about how to prepare Italian food that works. I didn’t feel like a traditional Italian sauce, so I prepared steak with a mushroom sauce.
PREPARATION: I started with the pasta. I needed more flour than the recipe said, but the amount can depend very much on the eggs and the weather. It took a while of adding bits of flour to get the dough to the point of losing its stickiness, but then it all came together beautifully and the dough after the eight minutes of kneading was gorgeous. So silky. I used to think eight minutes was a long time (especially when whipping egg whites) but when I’m kneading the time goes quickly. Rolling it was so much fun I could have kept doing it all day. I can’t wait to try it for rolling pastry. The sauce is easy to make if you follow the recipe. The sauce was reducing down after adding the stock when I put the steak on and had my water boiling for the pasta. I had my steak cooked and rested while I was finishing cooking my pasta, so that by the time the pasta was ready, I could chuck it in a bowl, pour over some sauce, put on the sliced steak, then finish it with the rest of the sauce. I added steamed beans at the last minute to the pasta and it was all served together. Topped it with a few leaves of parsley.
IMPRESSION: I’m so happy with my first pasta! The dough was so soft and silky. My husband and I both really enjoyed the combination of the pasta with the steak and sauce, and it’s on my repeat list.
Recipe for pasta from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, and the chasseur sauce from Sauces by Michel Roux.
Beef chasseur pasta (2 large serves)
Steak cooked to your preference and sliced.
Green beans, lightly steamed
115g strong plain flour
2 large eggs
Extra flour if necessary
Pour the flour on to a work surface, shape it into a mound and scoop out a deep hollow in its centre. Break the eggs into the hollow. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork for about one minute. Draw some of the flour over the eggs, mixing it in with the fork a little at a time, until the eggs are no longer runny. Draw the sides of the mound together with your hands, but push some of the flour to one side, keeping it out of the way until you find you absolutely need it. Work the eggs and flour together, using your fingers and the palms of your hands, until you have a smoothly integrated mixture. If it is still moist work in more flour. When the dough feels good to you, wash your hands, dry them and do a simple test: press your thumb deep in the centre of the mass; if it comes out clean, without any sticky matter on it, no more flour is needed. Put the dough to one side, scrape the work surface absolutely clear of any loose or caked bits of flour and any crumbs, and get ready to knead.
Push your dough forward against it, using the heel of your palm and keeping your fingers bent. Fold the dough in half, give it a half turn, press hard against it with the heel of your palm again, and repeat the operation. Make sure you keep turning the ball of dough always in the same direction. When you have kneaded it for 8 minutes and the dough is as smooth as baby skin, it is ready for rolling.
Divide the dough into six equal parts and cover with cling film. Spread clean, dry, cloth tea towels over a counter. Set the rollers at the widest setting. Flatten one of the pieces of dough with your hands and run it through the machine. Fold the dough twice into a third of its length and feed it by its narrow end through the machine once again. Repeat this 2-3 times, then lay the flattened strip of pasta over the tea towel on the counter. Take another piece of dough and repeat the above process. Lay the strip next to the previous one on the towel, not allowing them to touch. Finish the other balls of dough the same way. Reduce the opening of the rollers by one notch. Take the first strip you had flattened and run it once through the rollers. Do not fold it, but spread it flat on the tea towel and move on to the next pasta strip in the sequence. When all have been done, reduce the space by another notch on the rollers and continue. Consult the roller’s user guide for the recommended thickness and how it relates to the notches on your machine. (I started at 1, and rolled until 7, which was about the thickness of fettuccine).
Allow the strips spread on towels to dry for 10 minutes or more. The pasta is ready for cutting when it is still pliant enough not to crack when cut, but not so soft and moist that the strands will stick to each other. Put a large pot with 4 litres of water on to boil, adding 1.5 tbsp salt once the water has come to the boil. Wait until it returns to the boil before adding the pasta. Don’t add oil unless cooking homemade stuffed pasta. Put all the pasta in at one time and cover the pot to return the water to the boil. Cook uncovered, stirring the pasta frequently until it is firm to the bite (al dente). Drain it immediately in a colander – do not wash. Use straight away – don’t leave it sitting waiting for the sauce to be finished – the sauce must be ready. Add the sauce to the pasta as soon as it’s served in the bowl, tossing the pasta to coat it with the sauce.
50g butter, half chilled and diced
100g button mushrooms, wiped and finely sliced
20g shallot, finely chopped
200ml dry white wine
200ml veal stock
1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley (continental)
1/2 tsp tarragon
salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt the non-cubed half of the butter in a shallow pan, add the mushrooms and cook over a medium heat for one minute. Add the shallot and cook for another minute, taking care not to let it colour. Add the white wine and let it bubble over a medium heat until reduced by half. Pour in the veal stock and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Take the pan off the heat and whisk in the remaining butter, a piece at a time, along with the snipped herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.