Lockdown lunches: how to make delicious fresh pasta with a rolling pin
Dry pasta is no longer always to be found on supermarket shelves, as consumers stockpile essential ingredients during the coronavirus crisis. So food writer Tim Hayward shows the FT’s Daniel Garrahan, in the third teach-in of our lockdown cookery series, how to make fresh pasta with a rolling pin - just like an Italian grandmother
Filmed by Lauren Juliff and Liberty Wright. Produced by Daniel Garrahan and Tim Hayward. Edited by Daniel Garrahan
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We're going to start getting messy now.
It's part cooking video, part workout. I have yet to meet a child who doesn't adore pasta.
Pasta is in short supply. I've never made my own, though. I haven't got one of those machines.
Millions and millions of old Italian grandmothers have been making it by hand for years. And it can't be that tough. At the very least we could make, maybe, some tagliatelle, or there's a lovely thing called malfatto, which means badly made. And you just roll out sheets and cut it into sort of slightly random shapes. What sort of flour have you got?
You've got Pasta D'Oro. Oh, that's brilliant! What I've got is plain flour and a semola, which is an Italian semolina flour. Well, I've mixed 50/50 of that.
The basic proportions you're going to need are 100 grammes of flour to each egg you've got. So 100 grammes of flour and an egg for each person.
I'm going to make enough for four.
So 400 grammes of flour. Weigh that into a bowl and four eggs. Make a well in the middle of the flour. Add to it a hefty pinch of salt.
And about a tablespoon of olive oil.
Egg. The egg is creeping into...
Use your hand like this.
OK? And use that to sort of break up the eggs in the middle. We're going to start getting messy now.
So let's see how this goes. Here we go. Start combining the flour into the eggs.
Oh, the eggs feel really gross on your fingers.
I think if you think the eggs feel gross, you're probably in the wrong business. You should be some kind of cameraman, not a cook. So keep turning it, kneading it, and it will absorb all of that flour.
I was kneading on top of the scales.
That was daft.
Just embrace it.
Keep going. Pretty soon, the dough cleans your hands for you.
I'm embracing it.
Embrace the dough. And it's bloody hard work.
Yeah. I'm getting a bit of sweat on already, actually.
You're a sweaty nonna, mate.
So are we going to make the one that looks awful?
Yeah. Malfatto - it means badly made, terribly made.
Terribly made, I think I'm well-qualified to make that one.
Let's set our bar low, I would say. Pour everything out of the bowl onto the table top. And sooner or later you'll have a clean table and a ball of silky smooth, well-worked dough, and shoulders like a bloody Viking weight lifter.
It's not feeling very silky.
It's not feeling silky yet?
Far from it.
It's not really sticking together very well.
If I was your grandmother and I spoke Italian, I would yell at you and say that's because you were an idle, slack boy. And you should be ashamed. And I'm going to come there and phone your mum.
This is part cooking video, part workout.
God, it's hard work.
Oh, I'm going to get there, I think. There aren't really any bits left on the table.
OK. Back in the bowl, cover it with cling film so it doesn't dry out.
And we put it in the bowl and put in the fridge for half an hour.
So I've watched enough episodes of "MasterChef" in my time to know that even with one of those fancy machines, one of the main criticisms tends to be it wasn't thin enough. So how on Earth are we going to get it thin enough with just a rolling pin?
So the main thing is to not start with pieces that are too big. There's nothing wrong with cutting off smaller slices of it and going at it in small ways.
You want to put a tiny bit of flour on the board, but not much. And you just keep lifting it up, turning it over, and turning it round. That way, you stop it sticking. So that's already got to a stage where it's feeling quite thin.
So I'm going to hold mine upward. And I can actually read my screen through your pasta. So I've got this absolutely beautiful piece of kit. It's a double pasta wheel.
You can cut two sheets of this stuff. You could put an egg in the middle of one of them, a raw egg. It will have to be a very fresh one so it holds together.
And then shall we put another sheet over the top and squeeze the sides round, and you'd actually make a ravioli with an egg in the middle of it. And you poach it. But so the pasta is done on the outside, the egg isn't runny on the inside.
How do you know when it's about the right thickness?
Well, it's a thickness of a very thin credit card or quite a thick business card.
I wonder whether it needs to be thinner. Again, I'm just thinking back to "MasterChef."
"MasterChef," my ass.
It's what they always say. Is there a danger you make it too thin?
The only problem with that would be that it might just sort of fall apart a bit in the water. But I don't think that's going to be a problem. Cut this into any old shapes you like, really - slices, squares, diamonds.
What do you call that?
That's perfect! Yeah! That's fine. You've got it, mate. This is going to take about two minutes to cook.
A frying pan on the stove, get some olive oil, a good glob of olive oil, good and hot. And make sure the water's at a rolling boil.
Do you touch the pasta at all or just let it...
Let it do its thing. That's perfect.
And this, I reckon, is probably done. It's been two minutes.
Into the hot oil, lift out your pasta.
Move it around in the oil. And then put one more tablespoon of the pasta water in on top with loads of black pepper. Then I chuck in some Parmesan.
And what's happening is that the water, pasta, water, and oil, and cheese are breaking down into almost, like, a creamy sauce.
Keep the pasta moving?
You do it until the little bit of water you've splashed in there boils off. Combine the pasta water with the oil, with the cheese, and the pepper to make cacio e pepe. This is what it should look like. How's yours now?
The water is pretty much gone off.
That's it. Serve it. Get it out.
This is tasting great. So it's the easiest, fastest, simplest, best way to serve pasta, particularly if it's well-made.
I think my kids are going to love this.
This is bloody delicious pasta, I'll give you that.
I'm really impressed. Just using a rolling pin. But to those who say making pasta is too much of a pffaf, that's all very well when the supermarket shelves are full of the stuff. The only part of this I found difficult, really, was the rolling. But then, it was just a bit of elbow grease, really.
In normal times, I wouldn't cause this an everyday pasta. I certainly wouldn't make this for a family meal. You always used dried packet pasta, as any Italian would tell you.
But what I think is nice about this is once you get into the thinking about how it is you've made it, what thicknesses are good, how the flavours work together, it's very pure and very delicious.
You can do this. If you're stuck at home, and you can't find any pasta, and you don't have a machine, we've shown you, you can do it.
The pasta making bit is dead easy.
We've got a couple of visitors that I think are keen to try.
Oh, try it on them. See what they think.
I have yet to meet a child who doesn't adore pasta.
I love it. This is superb. What do you reckon, guys? Is it OK?
What do you think?