Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Impress your friends with pasta?

Before you click out of this blog, thinking you've heard it all before, believing that great pasta is a feat only the most elite Italian restaurants can achieve, read on, this is no scam. This pasta of which I speak, if made correctly, is soo good, I estimate a 50% decrease in Bertolli consumption in the next year. My friends and family rave about it, and this is what I serve to my Italian grandmother when I want to impress. I will probably serve this to my parents when asking them for a car. Based on my professional experience, and countless controlled experiments (no animal testing), I've determined that there is a 95% chance this is the best pasta will ever make. I just hope you have a pasta maker.

This recipe is from the French Laundry Cookbook but you can get it online here. The recipe on the website involves making agnolotti (stuffed pasta) but I usually make spaghetti. Follow the same directions as on the website for making the dough but roll the pasta out a little bit thicker and pass it through the spaghetti setting on your machine. For the first time, I recommend simply eating the pasta with some good butter or olive oil. This will allow you to really get a sense for the pasta's great, rich flavor, which is a result of the high egg to flour ratio.

I mixed the wet ingredients in a well of flour until it began to pull away from the table. I then used my handy dandy dough scraper to cut the remaining flour into the dough. Eventually, it all came together and I began to knead it, not pretzel style though, rather, press the dough forward with the heels of your hands. I did this for quite a while, and upon completion, decided I wouldn't have to lift weights for a week. I allowed the dough to rest while I arranged my mise en place.

I rolled the dough out then put it in a pot of heavily salted boiling water for slightly less than two minutes. Meanwhile, I put my multitasking skills to use, cooking an egg sunny side up, reducing some creme fraiche, and rendering some bacon lardons all at the same time! Even the coffee pot that rarely leaves the back burner was forced to vacate. I put the pasta in the reducing creme fraiche, then spooned in some of the pasta water, tossing this with the other ingredients rapidly to form an emulsion (thank you Osteria), I threw in the bacon and added some freshly grated Parmesan. I then transferred this to a plate and put the fried egg on top. It was one, big, heaping platter, just for mom (I think I needed a ride to my friend's house).

Take my advice. Make it. Enjoy.

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