Saturday, October 27, 2007

Homemade Fettuccini Alfredo

For my birthday my mother-in-law bought me the pasta attachment for our Kitchenaid mixer. If you've read any portion of this blog so far, you may notice that pasta is one of my favorite foods (so versatile and delicious!) so the prospect of being able to make my own was very exciting! She also passed along a recipe for homemade fettuccine from her copy of the October edition of Bon Appetite. With that as my guideline, I made my first forays into the fresh pasta cooking world.

This was actually a lot simpler than I had anticipated. It's really just a matter of giving yourself enough time to let the pasta dry, in it's various stages, and then be patient and delicate with the numerous times one must feed the dough through the rollers. Making the dough in the Cuisinart is super easy and the nice thing about the Kitchenaid attachment is everything, obviously, is mechanized--you just re-adjust the thickness of the rollers to press the dough into a thinner and thinner sheet, but all the rotating and pressing is done by the machine. And watching the full sheet of dough get cut into perfecting even strips so quickly and easily, honestly, filled me with glee. That's right, glee. I am very easily entertained.

I have yet to master the actual drying process however; we ate half of the pasta the same evening and the rest the next day. I am trying to find it within me to have the patience to spiral each delicious strand of fettuccine into a pinwheel for drying and saving, but honestly, I haven't yet. It seems like too much work. I hear they make drying racks for this sort of thing, however, unless making pasta becomes a regular activity (fun, delicious, but a bit time consuming) I may just have to suffer through eating it all very quickly. Darn.

And how better to do fresh pasta justice than with a very simple alfredo? Honestly, when I took a bite of this I blurted out "Wow, this tastes professional!" Not that everything I make isn't delicious and made with loving care, but it honestly tasted like something you would get in a restaurant.

Homemade Fettuccine
pasta recipe inspired from Bon Appetite
makes about 1 lb

2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling/shaping
1/2 tsp plus 1 TBS salt
2 large eggs
~6 TBS warm water, divided

1) Combine 2 cups of flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor. Pulse to combine. Add eggs and 4 TBS warm water. Using pulses, blend until a moist dough forms and begins to gather into a large dough ball, adding more water by the tablespoon if dough is dry.
2) Gather the dough together and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and pliable, sprinkling with flour if sticky, about ten minutes. Sprinkle lightly with flour on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand 45 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover with plastic.
3) Shape one piece of dough into a thin rectangle (the more rectangular, the more even your noodles). Set pasta maker at widest setting. Run through machine 4 times.
4) Adjust the machine to next narrower setting. Run dough through the machine 4 times. Continue through rollers until desired thinness, rolling the dough through 4 times each.
5) When dough strip is about 1/16 inch thick and about 20 – 24 inches long, place on floured service or large baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough. Uncover strips and let dry for about 30 minutes, turning once.
6) Cut each dough strip in half crosswise. Fit machine with 1/4 – 3/8 inch cutter attachment. Run strips through machine, cutting dough into fettuccine and dusting with flour if dough sticks.
7) Spread fettuccine our on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour and toss to coat. Cover fettuccine loosely with kitchen towels. Let stand for up to four hours, tossing occasionally to prevent sticking

**You can actually cook this pasta immediately, though I would say it benefits from some drying time to just make it easier to work with. If you intend to use the pasta next day, allow it to continue drying, then cover with a non-terrycloth dish towel and store in the coldest part of your fridge. Use the next day—pasta that has not be completely dried can quickly become moldy. To dry properly, use a rack or twist fettuccine strands into spirals, leave out to dry completely, and freeze or store in an airtight container.

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo
Serves 2

1/2 lb fresh fettuccine (see above recipe)
3/4 cup light cream
3 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 TBS salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
ground black pepper, to taste

1) Put up a large pot of water to boil (about 2 quarts).
2) Combine butter and 1/2 cup cream in a large saucepan. Heat over low until butter is melted and cream is barely simmering. Whisk to combine. Turn of heat and set aside.
3) When water has come to a boil add 1/2 TBS of salt to the water and the fresh pasta. Cook about 3 minutes or until al dente. Drain.
4) Add pasta to the hot cream. Add the remaining cream, Parmesan, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Cook over low heat for 1 – 2 minutes or until thickened slightly. Serve immediately (preferably with garlic bread and a small mixed green salad or broccoli!)

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