Friday, August 7, 2009

Fettucine Alfredo with Fresh Pasta

I just love freshly made pasta. It is a real treat for an Italian food lover like myself. Fresh pasta is very easy to make and even the most amateur cook should have no fear when attempting to make pasta. It is so easy with a food processor but the traditional "well method" can be used that you see utilized by an Italian nonna and even the chefs on Food Network. The "well method" is when you make a pile of flour like a volcano (with a depression in the middle). The eggs go in the middle and you beat the eggs whilst incorporating flour (This method is also good for pancakes). To watch a video on how to make fresh pasta using the "well method" check out this video by the Academia Barilla Culinary School on YouTube.

In culinary school, my chef instructor taught us the easiest method possible using a food processor. You throw the flour, salt, olive oil and eggs in the food processor until the dough forms little balls the size of the interior of these:

Then you just wrap it in plastic, let is rest for 20-30 minutes and your dough is ready to roll out. You don't need a fancy pasta machine either. You can just use a rolling pin and make tagliatelle (long strands of pasta about 1/4" inch wide).

Now that you know how to make your own pasta, it is important to know what sauce to use on it. You may have wondered before why there are so many different pasta shapes. Pasta is pasta right? WRONG! A pasta shape determines what sauce it will be paired with. Same thing with fresh pasta vs. dry pasta. Fresh pastas don't do very well with tomato sauces but are excellent with rich sauces such as cream sauces or ragouts.

I had some extra cream from my foray into ice cream making (ice cream posts will be in the future!) so I made this simple Alfredo sauce to accompany my fresh pasta. It only requires 4 ingredients: heavy cream, parmigiano reggiano, butter, salt and pepper. Well five, if you count salt and pepper as individual ingredients.

TBC's Fettucine Alfredo
serves 4

for the pasta:

3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
10-12 oz. all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)

for the Alfredo sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor combine eggs, oil, salt and pulse. Add flour and continue to process until coarse meal forms about the size of these : oo

Remove the mixture from food processor and form into a ball. Dough should be firm and not sticky when touched. If it is sticky add, more flour. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

After dough rests, set a large stockpot of water to boil. Roll out dough while you are waiting for the water to boil. If using a pasta machine, start with the rollers in the largest position. Take 1/4 of the dough (keep the rest covered in plastic so it will not dry out) and pass through the rollers , gradually decreasing the distance between the rollers with each pass until you reach your desired thinness. To keep the finished pasta from sticking together and from drying out, place in a sheet pan dusted with flour. Sprinkle some flour in the strands of pasta and gently form into "bird nests" and cover with a tea towel. The fresh made pasta should rest for another five minutes more which is perfect time to assemble the Alfredo sauce

In a skillet over medium-low heat, combine cream and butter, adding 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

When the water boils, add pasta nests. The pasta should only take 3-4 minutes, maybe even less depending how thin you rolled the pasta. Using tongs or a pasta spoon, transfer pasta to sauce. Add cheese and toss to combine. If sauce is too thick, add some pasta water. Taste and adjust seasonings.

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