May was a whirlwind of family events and weddings of friends. The weekends were taken up with presents and cakes and dancing and while I was really exhausted as this month came to an end, I didn’t mind it a bit. But I did want some time to ourselves to get the house back in order. We had also, in cooking quickly all month, emptied some containers of food in the freezer including our fresh pasta (even the spelt pasta). So we finally carved out some time to make fresh homemade pasta.
But we wouldn’t be Italian if we didn’t over do it a little bit. And since my husband’s parents have a farm full of chickens, ducks and geese, we had all sorts of eggs in our fridge. Put the two together and we made “Papara Pasta” (papara meaning duck in Calabrese dialect).
15 cups of flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
One goose egg, six duck eggs, four chicken eggs
You can see from the picture just how large that goose egg is (it’s about equal to three normal chicken eggs). The smaller, darker six eggs are from the ducks, the remainder are Andalusian chicken eggs. The eggs are so fresh, and free range, that the yolks were nearly orange and the pasta turned out a dark yellow. Ingredients for a “normal” batch is also included below. No matter the quantity you set out to make, the process is the same. Although be warned, if you’re crazy enough to make a big batch like us, make sure you have someone with serious arm muscles on hand for the kneading part.
Here’s what the “normal” recipe should look like:
Fresh homemade pasta
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
This makes one pound of pasta which is about four servings.
In either case, here’s how to make fresh pasta. Create a mound of flour on a work surface, a granite counter or wooden board is ideal. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add in the eggs and salt. Using a fork, beat the eggs and salt as if making scrambled eggs. As you beat the eggs, used the fork to slowly incorporate the flour staring from the inside edge and working around the well. Be careful not to break the walls of the well, or the eggs will spill out, but slowly incorporate the flour until a dough starts to clump and form.
Using your hands, collect and incorporate the remaining flour, beginning to knead the dough until it is no longer taking in any more flour. Knead for about 10 minutes, on a floured surface, working the dough until the surface is smooth.
Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, lightly flour your working surface and cut the dough ball into manageable pieces (cut into quarters if working with the “normal” recipe). Dust one of the pieces lightly with flour and cover the remaining with a towel until you are ready to use it. Feed the pasta through the widest roller setting of a pasta machine. Dust lightly with flour again and fold into thirds. Run it through the widest setting again. Continue to feed the dough through the rollers, setting the rollers closer together on each pass until you reach your desired thickness.
Lay on a table or tray on a clean kitchen towel to dry. You can also dry it hanging over broomsticks balanced between two chairs or pick up a fancy pasta drying rack. Repeat these steps with the remaining pasta dough.
If the pasta, as you are rolling it through the machine, gets large and unwieldy like our Papara Pasta did, cut the lengths in half for easier handling. Or take it as an opportunity to get an arm workout!
Allow the pasta to dry for 15 minutes. It will have a slightly leathery texture. At this point, you can switch out your pasta rollers to cut the pasta into linguini or spaghetti or cut the lengths for use in a lasagna as we did. We stored them in containers for freezing until we are ready to put the lasagna together.
The deep yellow pasta made a tender and flavourful pasta and a perfect lasagna (the lasagna recipe is for another day!). Having the pasta in the freezer is handy for days we are in a rush. But making a huge amount of pasta takes most of the day, be warned if you try the big batch, so it made for yet another busy weekend.