May 20 2010

Second-Generation Pasta

Published by at 7:43 am under Dinner

My assistant sagely dubbed the following recipe — Homemade Pappardelle with Quail Ragu — “second-generation” pasta, because version one met a sad fate. But let me back up.

For my birthday this year, a very close family friend thoughtfully gave me a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. Since I can never afford anything there on my own but love lusting after adorable (and admittedly needless) baking pans, I was obviously thrilled and went immediately to the store to survey the selections. Thanks, Bill!

After nearly an hour of making the rounds at the three-story shop in Union Square with my assistant patiently in tow, I settled on something I’ve been wanting for a while: a pasta machine! Ever since my assistant’s mother gave me an Alice Waters cookbook from the 1980s dedicated solely to pasta- and pizza-making, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the fresh stuff. The Ricotta Gnocchi was my first foray, but I was ready for real noodles this time around.

My machine, which I now love, has settings for linguine and fettucini, but I was feeling picky and really wanted pappardelle, which are the wider noodles (about 3/4-inch thick, officially). But the great thing about the pasta maker is that you can use it to flatten the dough thin, and then cut the noodles just how you want them. Yes, you can also do this with a rolling pin, but interestingly enough, that’s something that I do not have. Go figure.

Anyway, I spent much of Sunday flattening my dough and meticulously cutting the noodles, at which point I made my big mistake: I layered them all on a plate, uncooked. I know. It seems so obvious, looking back, that they’d all stick together and be completely unrecognizable as any sort of pasta, much less pappardelle.

After a mini-breakdown and much encouragement from my assistant, we wadded up all the once-perfect noodles and sent the dough through the machine again. And it was so worth it.

He shot the quail we used in this dish himself, so I like to think of this one as a truly artisanal dinner.

Homemade Pappardelle with Quail Ragu

This pasta recipe is adapted from the Alice Waters cookbook, Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza, & Calzone.

For the pappardelle (Makes 4 small/medium servings):

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 eggs

A bit of water

Pinch of salt and olive oil, for boiling

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk eggs together in a separate small bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour bowl, and pour in eggs. Working from the outside in, begin to combine flour mixture and eggs into a dough. Add water as needed (I’m reluctant to give an exact amount, because it depends on your flour and eggs. My advice is to err on the side of too little water, because you can always add more, and when the dough forms together and becomes sticky, you’ll know it’s right).

Knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 4 or 5 manageable sections, and roll into logs several inches long. I found that this helped me when using my pasta machine. Run dough through machine a few times, starting with the widest setting and ending with a thin one (I used the next-to-thinnest, if that makes sense).

Lay dough flat on floured surface and cut into noodles 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick. DO NOT LAYER!

Bring large pot of water to boil with a pinch of salt and olive oil, which keeps noodles from sticking together. Boil pasta for about 5 minutes, then drain.

For the ragu (Serves 4):

1 lb. quail, bones in

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, diced

2 medium yellow squash, unpeeled and roughly chopped

2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and roughly chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

28 oz. canned San Marzano tomatoes in tomato sauce

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary

1 tsp. salt

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add in quail. Boil for about 15

minutes, or until birds are cooked through. Remove from water and let cool.

Once cool, use your fingers to remove quail meat from bones and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, and add in garlic and shallots. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until shallots begin to become fragrant and tender. Add in squash and zucchini, and sauté for another 10 minutes, until vegetables soften but do not brown.

Add wine to vegetable skillet. Use your hands to crush the tomatoes, and add them and all of their juice to the skillet, too. Add rosemary and salt. Stir. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add quail meat to sauce, cover again, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. If the sauce looks thin, remove lid to let it reduce a bit. If it looks thick, add a touch of water.

Serve ragu over pasta, and top with parmesan if desired.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Second-Generation Pasta”

  1. Billon 20 May 2010 at 11:05 am

    Liv, glad you like your new pasta machine. Actually I have one but have never had very good luck using it. Maybe you need to give me a lesson when you are home, or better yet, just make pasta for me. Dede used to make pasta several years ago and it was really good.

    Your pasta ragu looks delicious—I might have to try making it myself. And about that rolling pin, Christmas is not that far off!

    Tell your able assistant hello, and I look forward to more new recipes.

  2. Livon 20 May 2010 at 11:54 am

    I love it — thank you so much for the wonderful gift! I’d be happy to give you a tutorial some time 🙂

  3. patricia blairon 25 May 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Liv, I have enjoyed your blog so much, and you are certainly ambitious in you culinary endeavors! I have to share my pasta making story with you—Dede gave me one years ago, when she also gave Bill his, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. A friend came over and we got started—all went pretty well, after we finally figured how to attach it to my counter, (no easy task!!!) but as it started coming out of the machine, we realized we didn’t have any place to put it! Finally, we just took my breakfast room chairs and draped the pasta over the backs! It looked like laundry hanging all over my kitchen, but the pasta was delicious!!!
    I actually used mine not long ago to try a flatbread recipe, but I need to work on that a little more!
    Keep up the good work—it’s a delight to see your creativity!!!

  4. Livon 25 May 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Thanks for reading, Patricia — and it’s definitely nice to know I’m not the only one who had trouble with the pasta machine the first time around. That’s so funny about the chairs! Good idea to use it for flatbread… I’ll have to try that!