Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black Pepper Fettuccine

Last night I made pasta. Usually the husband does it, and I'll help, or watch, or do other things, but last night I did the entire process myself. In our pasta book, The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles, there was a recipe for Black Pepper Pasta. It's an easy one, with 3 or 4 ingredients, depending on whether or not you need to add water to moisten the dough in the food processor (I did). The husband kept trying to get me to use the dough hook on the KitchenAid, but I kneaded it by hand (great shoulder workout) and ended up with a very nice doughy texture.

After resting for some time (20 minutes min) it was time to get out the pasta roller attachments. I highly recommend a KitchenAid mixer (mine is Caviar, a lovely dark grey with sparkles in it), and I highly recommend the pasta making attachment. We love ours and use it frequently. I started out with a quarter of the dough and rolled it through on the '1' setting (widest) for awhile. Fold and feed, fold and feed, fold and feed. Each time the dough rolls through, it gets folded in half and rolled through again, usually in the opposite direction. Figuring out when to move to a narrower setting might be the trickiest part of the entire process, but as the husband said, I just kind of knew when it was time to move to the '2'. Once I got up to the 4 or 5, the paced picked up, since I was no longer folding and feeding; instead, I was feeding and adjusting the setting to the next narrow number.

I prefer my pasta slightly thicker than the skinniest possible (an 8), so after the dough went through the 6, I had to switch attachments, to the fettuccine one. At this point, my dough sheet was quite long, so I cut it into 4 manageable segments, and fed each one through the cutter. The husband received this rack for Christmas, and the best part about it is the arm that comes out of the top. We use the arm to catch the pasta as it comes through the cutter to transfer it to the drying rack.

The best thing about fresh pasta, aside from the amazing texture and taste, is how quick it cooks. I served my pasta with a pesto cream sauce, made from Central Market's prepared pesto and some whipping cream. I started by heating the cream and then added pesto by the spoonful until I achieved the flavor and consistency I wanted. I would have liked some fresh tomato pieces to top off the pasta (and make a pretty presentation for the dish) but I will have to wait until summertime for sweet ripe tomatoes.

All in all, a very successful dinner.

Black Pepper Fettuccine (from the book mentioned above)
2 cups flour (and more if needed)
1.5 teaspoons fresh ground pepper (I ground mine in a coffee grinder that has been converted to an herb grinder, worked very well and I had control over how coarse it was)
3 eggs
water, if needed, by the teaspoon

Combine flour and pepper in food processor and pulse a few times. Add eggs and blend until the dough forms a ball on one side of the bowl. If the dough is sticky (mine was not), add flour by the teaspoon until the ball forms. If the dough is dry, it will resemble large couscous and you will need to add water by the teaspoon. Once you have your dough ball, remove it from the processor bowl and knead it for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough feels nice and elasticy. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before making pasta.

*note: dough keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, or for a long time in the freezer. We have yet to determine exactly how long, because I think it depends on that particular batch of dough. Sometimes we have perfect dough out of the freezer, and sometimes once it has been frozen it no longer does the pasta thing and the husband gets frustrated.


Unknown said...

Test comment, for emily!

Leo said...

I love black pepper! This sounds great, and it makes me want to make a pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid, too!