One of the cooking forums I visit featured a fascinating post regarding the Italian dish spaghetti carbonara. This post took offense to the way the term 'carbonara' is applied at some "Italian" chain restaurants like Olive Garden to describe sauces made with cream, peas and other bastardizations to what is supposed to be a very simple dish with sauce made from egg.
For true carbonara, eggs are mixed with parmesan cheese and then poured over spaghetti that has been cooked, then put into a pan of rendered pancetta and tossed to coat. The residual heat from the pasta cooks the eggs just enough. I actually temper the egg with some of the pasta waster, and use my infrared thermometer to make sure the pasta is no higher than 155 degrees before pouring on the egg. Too hot and the egg will scramble.
For what it's worth I use bacon in mine, as I tend to have it around a lot more often than pancetta, but otherwise I followed his instructions and the dish was fabulous. It's a great comfort food as well as being quick, easy and inexpensive.
While all that is interesting and all, that's not what I'm writing about. The point is that in this post he also described making his own pasta; something I had never done until today, but as I read his description of the process I instantly wanted to try it. I picked up a very reasonably priced pasta rolling machine to make the job a little easier.
The basic pasta recipe is pretty simple; flour, eggs and salt. I used this guy's technique.
As far as flour, I made the fettuccine with AP and the ravioli with bread flour. As I suspected, the bread flour worked significantly better than AP. I couldn't tell a difference before they were cooked, but after cooking the bread flour maintained better tooth.
The fettuccine was just tinted with food coloring, but next time I'll use some spinach for color. The food colors looked OK when the pasta was dry, but once cooked it got much lighter and just looked silly.
The ravioli were really fabulous, I made 2 varieties; acorn squash and mushroom.
Acorn Squash filling:
- Roasted a halved acorn squash, peeled the meat.
- Into the processor with a splash of olive oil, some fresh pressed garlic, a healthy pour of Parmesan cheese and a dash of ginger and nutmeg.
- 6 pulses in the food processor, scrape the sides down and repeat.
- White button mushrooms sauteed in butter with 2 cloves of roasted garlic.
- A pour of olive oil and grated Parmesean.
- About 6 pulses in the food processor.
The acorn squash filling was really good, but the mushroom was outstanding. I could eat that all day long.