My wife surprised me with a Valentine’s day gift of an automatic pasta maker. I had made fresh pasta using a hand cranked pasta machine many years ago but we decide it is not worth the time and effort since the resulting pasta was rather soft and did not have much of the texture. The pasta machine with which I was gifted, was like a bread machine for pasta. Just put in the flour, add liquid (i.e. egg and water), flip the switch, watch it knead the dough for a while and be prepared to collect the pasta it extrudes in 15 minutes or less. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the “extruded” part but since my wife got me a pasta machine, I had to try it. After one failed attempt (too much water results in glop), I successfully made homemade “extruded” fettuccine which had a surprisingly nice firm texture. Since I had a leftover tapa “squid in beer sauce”, I used it as a pasta sauce. I had also just made meatballs, I added one (top in the picture below).
I garnished the pasta with our favorite spicy Spanish olive oil
I also added blanched broccoli for color and adjusted the seasoning with Kosher salt and freshly clacked black pepper. The long cooking made both the squid bodies and tentacles very tender and flavorful. The fettuccine was nicely chewy and satisfying.
The pasta machine is a small 2 person model made by Phillips. As per the instructions I used 200 grams of flour (Hodgson mill Semolina Pasta flour, since I could not find straight semolina flour at my grocery store. This flour is a mixture of Semolina and Durham wheat flour). The amount of liquid is 75 grams including one egg. This means the amount of the water you need to add is very small. It mixes and kneads for 3-4 minutes and then it reverses the turning direction of the paddle loading the mixture into the extruder (#1 in the picture. Very clever!). The dough looks very dry and the kneading does not form into a single mass but when it started extruding, it came together (#2 and #3). Since I made the pasta in the morning, I placed it on parchment paper and covered it with a towel (#2 and 3) until noon. This further dried the pasta.
I cooked the pasta in boiling water with added olive oil and salt (#4). I checked several times until still al dente but cooked (probably took 5-7 minutes). I drained and coated with olive oil (#5). I added the pasta to the warmed up squid in beer sauce (#6) and stirred so the sauce would cling to the pasta (#6).
This was much better than expected. The pasta had a nice chewy texture and went well with the squid. I learned that the amount of liquid should be between 75 to 80 grams including the egg for 200 grams of flour. The amount of pasta it made is supposedly for 2 servings but for us small eaters, half was enough for the two of us. This dough was much dryer than the one I made by hand. I made the first batch too wet like regular hand made pasta dough, but only half of the dough got extruded and the rest remained in the machine. The resulting pasta came out as a blob and could not be separated. The dough has to be fairly dry so that the it will go into the opening of the extruder. I assume that the pasta’s firm chewy texture derives from the fact that the pasta is rather dry when extruded and dries further when left out. I have to play with the machine some more (adding olive oil and salt comes to mind immediately). There are also several other dies that I have to experiment with not to mention vegetable juice to substitute for the water. I have to admit that my wife hit on just the right kind of gift to keep me “happily playing the sandbox” for some time to come. We were pretty pleased with the results.