I’ve been making pasta for ages and one of the things I hear people say all the time when they stop by my stand at the farmers market is: I have a pasta maker, but I don’t almost never use it. When I ask why, they usually say they’ve tried it before but the paste didn’t work. Either it was dry and falling apart or too wet and it stuck to everything. Getting the dough right is the only hard thing about pasta, and if you go over that, you risk breaking the machine more.
1. Hope you are using one of the older hand crank machines made by a number of companies such as Mercato or Atlas. If this is the case, do not wet your machine under any circumstances. These machines usually come with a brush that you can get in there and dust off any excess flour when you’re done, or pick up a small brush from the hardware store.
2. Don’t make it more difficult than necessary. You’ve seen many people make the flour volcano on a table, crack a number of eggs into it, then slowly incorporate them into the flour. It can be fun, but it’s also very time consuming for a novice, so when I teach classes I let people do the mixture in a big bowl until they mix it up, then we knead it.
People also read…
3. Do not dwell on one type of flour. Certainly semolina is sought after, but it is important to find a very fine grind if it is used. All-purpose flour works great, and if you have access to 00 flour, that’s the gold standard.
4. Cheat. If you’re in a hurry, use your food processor. It really takes the work away.
5. Recipes – There are so many that I would suggest picking one up from your favorite cook. I liked the recipes of Marcella Hazan, Gennaro Contaldo, Massimo Botturra, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.
6. Nap – When you are done making your dough, cover it and let it take a nap for about an hour. I wrap mine in plastic wrap; some people use a tea towel.
seven. When adding water to a recipe, do it little by little. It’s much easier to keep adding a little water than to fix a dough that’s too wet.
If you really want to dive into pasta, I highly recommend the book “Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto” by Marc Vetri.
My quick recipe:
2/3 C water (more as needed by the teaspoon only)
Put the flour in a food processor, make a well in the flour and add the egg and salt. Pulse a few times and scrape the sides. While the motor is running, slowly pour in the water until a paste begins to form. When you have hearty pea-sized balls, take them out, knead them a few times, wrap them in plastic and let them rest for an hour. Continue cutting into the shape you like.