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Homemade pasta in winter is best

Few things are more satisfying on a cold night than fettucine tossed with butter and grated cheese, or a bowl of noodles topped with stew or made into chicken and noodles. This is especially true when the noodles are made with really good eggs like the local ones carried by Common Ground Food Coop in Urbana. So, when I found myself with a surplus of egg yolks a few weeks ago, I decided to use them up by making pasta for my friends.

You don’t need a pasta maker, but if you can borrow one, it can cut the time drastically. Start with 2 T of water when mixing the dough. You may need slightly more if your flour is dry. If the dough does not become smooth and satiny with a bit of kneading, add more water a couple of teaspoons at a time.

Basic Pasta/Noodles

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs*
  • 2 T water
  • 1 t salt

Mix flour and salt and mound on kitchen counter. Make an indentation/well in the center of the mound. Break eggs and add water into the well. Using a fork, stir wet ingredients and work your way outward, picking up flour as you go. When dough is sticky and difficult to mix with a fork, gather it into your hands and form it into a ball. Lightly flour counter. Knead the pasta dough like bread dough. Using the heel of your hand, push it away from you, fold it in half, turn it a quarter turn and repeat for 10 minutes. The dough should be pliable, smooth, and satiny. Allow the dough to rest, wrapped in plastic wrap for 20 minutes or it will be difficult to roll out. If you do not have time to roll out the dough, it will keep several days in the fridge.

To make noodles without a pasta maker, lightly flour a board or your kitchen counter. Roll ½ of the dough with a rolling pin into a large rectangle. Flip over and continue to roll and flip until dough is no thicker than 1/16-inch thick. Lift dough onto a clean dish towel and allow it to dry for 15 minutes prior to cutting. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

To cut the noodles, start from the narrow end of the dough and roll it loosely like a jelly roll. Cut the roll crosswise with a sharp knife into ¼-inch wide strips. Unwind the strips. If using immediately, spread the noodles on a clean cloth and allow them to dry an additional 15 minutes prior to cooking. If you want to use the pasta at a future date, hang the noodles over wooden dowels or chopsticks, or place on baking racks for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dry the pasta until it snaps instead of crumbles when a piece is broken off.

Pasta will keep for several days in an air-tight bag in the fridge or for a few months in the freezer.

To cook, place pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. When it begins to float, start checking for doneness. A bit of butter or olive oil and some grated hard cheese are all you need for a great meal.

*Alternatively, you can use 3 egg yolks instead of whole eggs and increase water to ¼ or ½ c depending upon how dry your flour is.

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