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Adventures in Pasta Making Phase 1

For christmas, I finally got my pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid and I could not be happier. Between my meat grinder and my pasta attachment, I feel like my culinary life is now complete. Okay, If you really stop and think about it, I will think of a hundred other things I want in order to complete me but at this point, I could not be more content. Now, if only I could have a kitchen with more than 2 sq
feet of counter space, my life would really be complete. Okay, I lied, I do need a few more things lol.

I am going to admit that the last time I made home made pasta and used my hand crank roller (for the final lasagne in my love 4 lasagne November challenge) that the hand crank came flying off the machine and hit be square between the eyes and left a HUGE , bruised lump. This may have been a deciding factor in Shack's obsessive drive to buy me this lovely treat for christmas. I am a good cook, I make very tasty food but I am a danger to myself in there. You don't even want to hear why we call my chef's knife the Diginator.

The first attempt at making the dough using the recipe in my kitchenaid recipe book did not go well. Because I had never made pasta dough using it, I thought it best to start with their recipe but the dough was far too dry and crumbly and it was impossible to even think about kneading it so i threw it out and sat down at the computer and did some frantic googling. I finally decided to just start with the 4 large eggs, 1 tbl of olive oil, 1 tbls of water and a good pinch of salt and about 2.5 cups of flour. I let the dough  hook do it's thing and added another scant 1/2 cup of flour and took that out after a couple of minutes, kneaded it with some more flour for about 5 or 6 minutes and let it rest for 30 minutes before attaching my beloved roller to the kitchenaid to roll out sheets that I would then cut into fettucine. The dough seemed a bit wet and i had to keep sprinkling flour to each piece as i ran it through the flat roller on #1 at least three or four times before it started to smooth itself out. I can see that it's going to take a bit of practice to get the feel of the dough, but that's okay with me. I used the wider of the two cutters to make fettucine and tossed the noodles with a bit of flour on a silpat to keep them from sticking before cooking it for about 2 minutes in boiling water.

That first night, i made a clam sauce with some fennel, onion, butter, olive oil, white wine, lemon juice and zest, a bit of heavy cream and a bit of fresh basil to serve with my home made fettucine. I rolled the dough out to #4 and although the boys said it was perfect, I thought it was just a tad too thick. The sauce was delicious and the chewiness of the fresh pasta was so nice but i found it to be just the tiniest bit too thick for such a light sauce. It made enough to feed the three of us with one portion leftover.

The next night we had friends for dinner so I foolishly thought I would have to double the recipe and I had to stop after rolling out half of the dough and put the rest in the fridge, which i will either roll out and freeze or just throw the dough itself in the freezer. I wanted to try it with something really different this time so I made a slow cooked pork ragu in the crock pot.

This time I rolled the pasta sheets to #5 before cutting it and I thought that it was an improvement over the previous night's pasta. My original intent had been to roll out the sheets and then  hand cut them into paperadelle but by the time our guests arrived, things were a bit out of control and I just didn't have the space to lay the sheets out for cutting. Nobody seemed to care about that but me, so I took the easy way out and I used the same fettuccine cutter that I used the night before. 

I shredded the pork shoulder, discarded the fat and bone and boiled the sauce down with about a tbls of tomato paste to thicken it up. The meat was added back into the sauce and then the freshly cooked pasta was then tossed into this delicious pork ragu to be served with a bit of fresh parmesan on top.

My first two days using the same pasta recipe cut into the same shape but eaten with entirely different sauces and I really did love both and I look forward to many, many more delicious adventures in pasta that are in my future. I should also probably note that this is most likely going to result in my forced commitment to now do TWO half marathons a year because between the Artisan Bread and all of this pasta, I am going to need to be "in training" pretty much year round! 


Basic Pasta Dough
4 eggs
between 2.5 and 3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls water
1/2 tsp salt

put eggs, oil, water and salt in the kitchen aid bowl with the flat paddle and add about 2.5 cups of flour. Let that mix on speed 2 for about half a minute. Change the paddle for the dough hook and knead the dough. Check the dough after the first minute to see if it feels too wet and if it does, start adding more flour, a few tbls at a time. I ended up with just under 3 cups of flour in the end. Knead for 2 minutes from the time you feel the dough is correct. Remove the dough and hand knead on a floured surface for at least 5 minutes until the dough is totally smooth and elastic. Cover it with some plastic wrap or a towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, but an hour is even better.
When it's time to roll it out, pinch off about 1/4 of the dough at a time, covering remaining dough while you roll and start feeding it through the flat roller on number #1, the widest setting. If it isn't coming out all smooth and nice, you can add a tiny bit of flour, fold the dough in thirds and keep running it through on number #1 for a couple of times before advancing on to the #2 setting. Keep passing it through, moving the setting up until the desired thinness has been reached. I suspend my broom stick between two chairs, cover the broom stick with clean tea towels and lay the pasta sheets over that as i go because I am crazy. If you can think of a better set up in your kitchen, please share it with me.

To be honest, if you do a quick internet search you will find endless great tutorials for doing this and I suggest taking ten minutes and watching a few video tutorials, read a few photo tutorials and it will all make much more sense. That's what I do and it is always so much more helpful than just reading a recipe.

Clam Fettucine:
approx. 1 lb. of small clams - if you like the big ones use those but I can't deal with the texture
butter for sautéing and to whisk in at the end, maybe 2 tbls total
1 tbls olive oil
1/4 bulb fennel, sliced into thin strips
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
approx. 1/2 cup white wine
approx. 1/4 cup chicken stock
approx. 1/4 cup heavy cream
fresh basil chiffonade

sauté the onion, fennel and garlic in 1 tbls butter and 1 tbls olive oil over med heat until really fragrant and starting to soften. Add the white wine and let it cook down for a couple of minutes and then add the chicken stock, bring to a simmer, add the clams and cover. Cook for a few minutes until all the clams are totally opened up and then remove the lid. Add the lemon juice, the zest and simmer for another minute. 

Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water you have waiting on the stove and cook for 2 minutes only. Strain it and add it to a big serving bowl.

Add the heavy cream to the clams, a tbls at a time, until it reaches the consistency you like, adding up to 1/4 cup, taste for salt and pepper and season to your liking and bring that to light boil and cook it for another minute. Remove from heat, take out the clams and put them in the bowl with the pasta if you aren't fussy about presentation or set them aside if you are. Whisk in another tbls of butter, add the basil and pour over the waiting pasta and clams. If you are the fussy one, this is when you artfully arrange the clams on top of the pasta.

Pork Ragu over Pasta:
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, whole
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 pork shoulder, picnic roast or whatever you would normally use to make pulled pork
salt, pepper
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme
1/2 cup red wine
1 can plum tomatoes, crushed between your fingers

sautéed the vegetables and garlic in a tbls of olive oil until starting to brown a bit and softened and then put in the bottom of a crock pot (you can do this in a dutch oven in a low oven all day too but I am a busy woman and I have errands to run and things to do and I have learned to embrace my crock pot, as should you). Add the wine and the canned tomatoes, a big sprig of fresh rosemary and a few sprigs of thyme.
Coat both sides of your pork roast with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, chopped fresh rosemary and fresh thyme that you just pull off of the stalks. Add your roast to the crock pot with or without browning it first. If you do brown it, make sure to de glaze the pan and add all of that goodness into the crock pot as well but don't feel guilty if you don't brown it because it will still be delicious.

I got a late start so I turned the crock pot on high for the first four hours and then down to low for the next hour and a half but ideally, I just leave it on low all day. It cannot overcook and as long as it's on low there is no danger of cooking off the juices and drying it out.

When the meat is falling off the bone, remove the roast to a big bowl or platter to cool enough that you can handle the meat. I pour the liquid into a big pot and boil it down on the stove top, adding about 1 to 2 tbls of tomato past and giving a couple whizzes with an immersion blender so that it thickens up a bit but there are still chunks of veggies in there. Keep tasting it and stop when it gets to a consistency you like - not too thin and soupy but not thick like stew either.
Meanwhile, pick over the meat, discard all fat and bone and shred the pork with a couple of forks or just using your fingers and add all of the meat and the reduced sauce back into the crock pot to keep warm until you are ready to eat.

Make the pasta (if fresh cook for a couple of minutes only), put the pasta into your big serving bowl, add the pork and the sauce and mix it up really well before taking it to the table where everyone can serve themselves a nice bowl of hearty pork ragu and pasta. You can plate it individually in the kitchen and mix the pasta and sauce in right in the pot but to me, this dish is NOT about pretty. It is a hearty, sloppy family dish that begs to be brought to the table in a nice shallow serving bowl. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and don't blame me when you have no room for dessert!

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