Saturday, March 10, 2012

Pasta Semi-Success

Dinner: March 7

It had been a full month since I posted here. I was quite discouraged by my inability to make a simple pasta dough, and I stayed away from most kitchen endeavors for awhile. I needed to find my confidence again.

And I did.

I tried the same dough, a simple one of durum wheat flour and water, only I changed something. I watched the video again and realized that Chef Lidia Bastianich used regular white flour when working the dough and rolling it out. Last time, I used more durum wheat flour, but using the white flour this time made all the difference. I was able to find the correct consistency for the dough, and it worked!

I rolled pieces into strips, cut them into 1” pieces, and used my fingertips to form them into concave shells. What I failed to do, though, was make the strips pencil-thin. My shells were very thick, probably due to my fear of making them too thin and watching them break apart. I didn’t realize how sturdy the durum wheat pasta could be, so my cavatelli shells were quite thick. Too thick, really.

Even so, I put the shells on a cookie sheet with some extra white flour to air-dry for a bit, and I then cooked them in a pot of water at a rolling boil, per instructions. They came out as promised, only still too thick because of my aforementioned fear.



Per this recipe, I compiled these ingredients, though I cut the amounts in less than half.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3 slices of bacon cut into ½ inch pieces
2 large eggs
¾ cup shredded fontina cheese
Salt to taste

I heated the olive oil in a skillet, added the butter, and then added the bacon to cook until crisp. Drained al dente cavatelli from boiling water and put directly into the skillet, tossing with bacon, fat, oil, and butter. Poured beaten egs over pasta and stirred quickly to avoid cooking the eggs, which didn't entirely work. Turned off heat, covered pasta with cheese, and tossed.



Results:
It was edible! And I consider this a success simply because I was able to make proper pasta dough. The sauce for the cavatelli was also good, as I enjoy a good carbonara. Obviously, the pasta shells were very thick, though, and they were a little tough to eat because they were so doughy, but I’ll take my small victory and run with it.

Now that I know from experience the strength of the durum wheat pasta, I’ll be able to make the shells much thinner and feel confident that they’ll stand up to the boiling and mixing. And knowing that I can make the simplest of pasta dough gives me the confidence to stay in the kitchen and try more recipes.

I’m back.

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