Speaking of rain, today I made some 100% whole wheat pasta dough. I didn't want to leave the house, right, so I opened the cupboards to see what I could conjure up. I had a little bit of Community Grains had red winter wheat flour left, yeah, and so dredging up some foggy memories from my chef days at Oliveto, I endeavored to make pappardelle. By Hand. No machine. Just a rolling pin. Now that's bad-ass.
The thing about 100% whole wheat pasta is that you have to use the best quality flour that you can find, hence the Community Grains flour here. And say, if you're not feeling up to doing this thing by hand, you can totally use your pasta machine, but I have to confess, there is a certain satisfaction that comes with rolling the dough out to paper thin. Making pasta by hand is not hard, it doesn't take long, and it's uber rewarding. If you think I'm crazy, you know with this whole rolling pin thing, remember that Italian grandmothers everywhere did it this way back in the day (and still do, right, fabulous old habits die hard).
This pasta can be paired with any number of earthy things: simple, like truffle butter, a little salt and thyme, this is what I did today. Try it with some good olive oil, cannelini and cavolo nero, I plan to do that tomorrow. It will happily stand up to a hearty and more involved sauce like a game bird ragu. Try it with sausage, rabe, chili pepper and olive oil, or maybe some chicken livers with vin santo and sage. Puttanesca would be fabulous with this, as would anchovies and Calabrian chili and olive oil, a little fresh herb. Seriously, the possibilities are endless, so get on it!
Alright, so here's the simple recipe and a photographic journey to further guide you. Let me know how it turns out.
This recipe makes about 1.4 pounds of pasta.
GATHER THESE THINGS
2 cups Community Grains hard red winter wheat flour (no subs, please)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp kosher salt
about 1/4 cup cold water (of which I used 11 TB)
1) Pour the flour onto a clean work surface large enough to accommodate your rolled out dough, mine is 26" square and worked perfectly.
2) Make a well in the center of the flour, then break the two eggs into it.
3) Start scrambling the eggs, pulling in small measures of flour. Keep pulling in more and more flour until it becomes rather thick, at which point you will begin to add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing all the while with the fork, pulling in small measures of flour, until it starts to become a shaggy mass, and quite pointless to keep using the fork.
4) Do away with that fork! And start kneading the dough with your hands, incorporating all of the flour so that it become a smooth mass. (Keep adding water just until the dough begins to come together. It should be smooth, stiff, and easy to work with. Be careful not to over-hydrate it). Your bench scraper is a mighty tool at this point. You can use it to scrape up the flour and turn it into the mass, so I hope you have it nearby.
5) Once all of the flour is incorporated, add the salt to the dough. Knead this mass for about 5 minutes, then cover with a bowl and let it rest for at least 45 minutes, giving it time to relax and absorb all of the water.
6) After the dough has rested, flour the counter liberally with more of the Community Grains red winter wheat flour, and begin rolling out the dough using long, smooth movements. Start in the center of the dough, always, and push the pin out to the edges.
7) Add flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the pin and the counter. Focus on pushing the pin all the way out through the edges to achieve a smooth sheet as thin and even as you can possibly get it. Dude, it has to be really thin. Don't be afraid to flour your board and the dough to get it to where it needs to be.
8) Flour the sheet liberally, then fold into thirds. At this point you can cut the sheet into pappardelle, tagliatelle, maltagliatelle, fettucini... whatever floats your boat.
9) Unfold what you plan to use immediately, and get your water boiling.
10) This pasta only takes a few minutes to cook to al dente, so watch it. Drain quickly and toss it with whatever sauce, butter, ragu, or oil you desire and eat right away.
11) If you don't use all of the pasta right away, lay the strips out flat and flour liberally. then gently fold it in thirds and slip into a zip lock bag, pressing out any air. Slip a sheet of paper towel, into the bag to absorb condensation. This will keep the dough from sticking when you use it the next day.
12) If you don't plan to cut/use the sheets right away, slip into a zip lock bag, press out any air, pop a sheet of paper towel into the bag to absorb condensation and use within a couple of days. Temper a bit to make it more pliable before unfolding and cutting.
Mangia bene, vivi felice!