~ My Electric-Extruder Pasta-Machine Pasta-Dough ~
I love my pasta machine. By today's standards, it's is a dinosaur. It celebrated its 25th birthday over the weekend. I celebrated my 60th birthday over the weekend. It was my 35th birthday present. How's that for Kitchen Countertop Appliance Statistics 101. I'm hoping "they still make 'em like they used to" because the Italian-made Simac is an amazing piece of high-quality equipment. It has earned a place on my kitchen counter right next to my Simac gelato machine.
No store-bought pasta product compares to scratch-made pasta in taste or texture. I've hand-mixed plenty of pasta dough and a put a lot of muscle into kneading it too. Over the years, my Cuisinart food processor, KitchenAid mixer and Atlas pasta machines (hand-crank and electric) have taken a lot of the work out of the labor-of-love pasta making process. That said, my Simac, for a great percentage of my 'fresh pasta' needs (pasta that is to be cooked and eaten rather immediately, not hung up to dry), is my go-to favorite. No fuss, no mess, voila: homemade pasta -- even on weeknights. In less than 30 minutes, 1 1/2 pounds of pasta is mixed, kneaded, extruded and ready to be cooked or refrigerated overnight. A machine of this type is by no means a compromise -- it's a time-saving asset. All of the parts, except the base, are dishwasher safe, so cleanup is a breeze too!
Like bread machines, ice-cream machines and a host of other kitchen appliances, pasta machines come with instructions and recipes. It goes without saying, always follow the manufacturer's instructions, but, when it comes to their recipes, they are the leading cause of people storing an appliance in a closet, selling it at a garage sale or returning it for a refund.
For the most part, the recipes that came with my Simac worked ok. I had no inedible disasters. I just felt they could be better, and, with a little work, I improved upon the ones that interested me and my family. I'm going to share a few of them here on Kitchen Encounters this week. I'm starting with egg pasta dough because it is, hands-down, a favorite of everyone I know, and, it is the perfect introductory recipe for people who are new to the pasta making process. Before starting, assemble your pasta machine according to manufacturer's specifications, then, before adding any ingredients, turn it on and off -- if it doesn't turn on, something isn't secured properly.
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 whole large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
~ Step 1. Measure and have ready all ingredients as listed. I cracked five eggs into the measuring container that came with my machine, which is slightly more than they recommend for one pound of flour. That was my first improvement to their recipe. Five eggs are perfect.
~ Step 3. Lock the lid in place on the top and turn the machine on. Begin adding the eggs, slowly, as close to one-at-a-time as you can manage, followed by the olive oil. Olive oil is the third improvement I made to their recipe. They recommend none.
~ Step 4. Allow the machine to knead the dough for six full minutes. The dough will not be grainy (which would mean it's too dry) and it will not have formed a ball (which would mean it's too wet). It will be a sort-of lumpy mass.
~ Step 6. Pull the shutter out of the side of the machine and turn machine on. With the shutter out, machine will start feeding dough down through the opening where it will be extruded out the front.
~ Step 7. Depending on what pasta disc you chose, just keep cutting pasta into even-sized pieces or strands, and moving the tray as you go. Even-sized pieces or strands = even cooking. There is no need to flour the surface of the tray.
~ Step 8. My 1 1/2 pounds of pasta is ready to be cooked in boiling salted water, or, it can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight prior to cooking. The fresher the pasta the faster it cooks and fresh pasta cooks much faster that dried pasta, but, the timing varies depending on the size and shape. Spaghetti = 2-3 minutes.
Cook in plenty of boiling, salted water & drain:
Special Equipment List: kitchen scale; electric-extruder pasta machine; large shallow plate or platter; paring knife; 8-quart stockpot (for cooking pasta); colander (for draining pasta)
Cook's Note: My spaghetti is sauced with ~ My Fresh & Spicy Tomato-Basil Sauce (Marinara) ~, which I make and freeze each and every year from the Roma tomatoes Joe grows in our garden. Click into Category 8 or 12 to get the recipe!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)