Shall we just gloss over that it has been awhile and just jump right in? Yes? Good, glad we see eye to eye on this. But, ah, sorry about the whole not being around thing. We really have very good excuses; excuses like vacation, and training for work, training for a marathon, and planning Fake Thanksgiving [and, laziness – Court]! We are back now though and ready to talk about pasta! (With a little side jaunt to into lamb ragu first.)
Both Courtney and I were afraid to make our own pasta. My [our] fear, as with many things, was based on not having all of the right equipment (and not being willing to buy it since, well even though I run a lot, I don’t usually choose pasta to carbo load [Crazy, right? Who doesn’t like pasta? – Court]). However, after reading a bunch of articles on The Kitchn, I thought it was time to take a chance and convinced Court that it was time too. From our research it seemed that pappardelle would be an easy pasta to start out with since we really wouldn’t need any fancy pasta rollers or KitchenAid attachments.
I picked up the ingredients and headed over to Courtney and Tom’s house to start cooking while Court took Tom to the airport and Jack napped. I started to prepare the recipe as directed, but for some reason had it in my head that cast-iron casserole = cast-iron dutch-oven. I don’t know why, even though I had asked Court where the casserole dish was and she told me I still went to the extra trouble of getting the dutch-oven out…which is kept in a much less convenient spot. So let’s review, have I learned to prepare in advance for a recipe? No. Have I learned to read and pay attention to recipe instructions? No. This is obviously going to be awesome.
Anyway, after attempting to brown the leg of lamb in the dutch-oven, it not fitting, and me getting mad, I read the recipe for the billionth time and got out the casserole dish.
From here, the recipe is really easy actually. I added the milk, thyme, bay leaf, and cinnamon and boiled, covered, and then braised in the oven (which is really just fancy talk for searing and then basting while roasting in the oven).
Once the meat was super tender and I could pull it from the bone, I took it out of the oven and let it cool. [Man did that smell good when I got back from the airport – Court] All the good stuff from the casserole dish was set aside in a measuring cup for later. I pulled the meat from the bones and chopped it up into half-inch pieces.
All the meat, the big bones from the leg, the milky pan goodness, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chicken broth went back on the stove to simmer and reduce. Then it was time to refrigerate it overnight.
F-ME we did NOT plan for that!
Good thing I was planning on going back to Court’s the next day anyway! Our friend Aneesa was in from NYC; originally, we were going to order take-out for dinner with her, but Aneesa loves pasta, so we figured she wouldn’t mind if we had take out tonight and made her eat homemade ragu and pasta when she came over.
And now, I will turn the rest of the story over to Courtney.
So . . . what is up? We’re back. I did some research on making pasta (and by “research” I mean typed “pappardelle recipe” into Google). Komi’s ragu recipe actually had instructions for making it, but they wanted you to use a food processor (?). [In retrospect, maybe we should try the food processor next time. – Turk] I’m all about efficiency, but if we were going to make pasta I wanted our experience to be authentic. The next one that popped up was from Michael Chiarello (I mean KEY-a-rello) and it seemed easy enough: four ingredients, mix, knead, roll, cut, you’re done! Right? … Not so much.
We sifted all the dry ingredients together, then made a well and poured in the eggs and olive oil. And the wet ingredients pretty much immediately breached the well and started pouring out all over the counter. Oops. Turk quickly started mixing all the goop together by hand and managed to corral everything without it overflowing onto the floor. Once it was all mixed together, we kneaded the dough (nice that I managed to make bread and this is the first time I actually had to knead).
After the dough rested in the fridge for a bit, it was time to roll it out. The instructions called for rolling “until you can see your fingers through the bottom.” Really, KEY-a-rello? Could you be a little more vague? We weren’t sure if that meant, you know, seeing the shadow of your fingers, or actual pink skin, or making out fingerprints through the dough. We went with mostly being able to see pink.
After that, we cut the dough. You basically chiffonade it, but he calls for ¾-inch strips. [I also did not like how this then produced pasta that had kinked sides rather than being completely straight… that is probably my OCD showing through though. – Turk] In retrospect, not only was our pasta too thick (spoiler alert!) it was also too wide. Granted, we didn’t break out our ruler or anything, but next time I think a half-inch or less would be better.
So we tossed the pasta into (what turned out to be not enough) boiling water. It cooked, and cooked, and cooked, and finally we just said to hell with it and took it out. Turns out that when you have too-thick fresh pasta, a) you need more water than you think and b) it’s hard to tell when it’s done. By the time we took it out it was a little gummy.
Oh, well. The ragu redeemed it all. We learned some lessons – namely, don’t make pasta without a lot of patience and/or a machine – and I am not ashamed to admit I threw away my leftover pasta afterward. [Heh, me too…ate the ragu, threw away the pasta – Turk]