Making pasta at home isn't difficult. A handful of dough. An Atlas pasta machine. But if you're Rustic Canyon executive chef Evan Funke, who learned the art in Italy and is a Bologna certified chef sfoglino, you mix your pasta by hand, roll it out so thinly that you can see through it, and make the shapes in very specific ways. We recently spent the morning taking lots of pictures of Funke doing precisely that. Here's your pasta-making visual aid, in slideshow form.
Funke has lots of old pasta-making gadgets that he brought back from Italy, where he's pilgrimaging again later this month. He has cutters and presses, gnocchi boards and spring-loaded handmade ravioli stamps and a guitarra from Abruzzo. He has tortellini cutters and a beechwood pasta table (800€ shipping alone) and a birchwood rolling pin handmade for him because his wingspan is so wide. "It makes my job fun," said Funke in the cramped closet that is Rustic Canyon's kitchen. "The texture of hand-rolled pasta is completely different."
To make the pasta dough mix 500 grams of 00 flour with 5 eggs. You can get the fine high gluten flour at Surfas. Funke uses eggs from Schaner Farms, who sells them at the Wednesday Santa Monica farmers market. No salt. No olive oil. "None of that stuff." This sort of thing is specific to Bologna, but, says Funke, "If you go to somebody's house, they'll swear up and down that this is the most traditional recipe ever. Then you go next door and they say the same thing." Different recipe, of course.
For a detailed visual aid to each step, click through the slideshow.
1. Make a flour well, crack then eggs into it and mix it up with a fork, then work from the inside out.
2. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Then wrap it tightly in plastic and let it rest, anywhere from 10 minutes to 24 hours, in the refrigerator. The dough will yield about 1 pound of pasta.
3. After the dough rests, roll it out. Press it into a round of about 9 inches, then start rolling, turning the increasingly flat dough around. Funke holds it with his stomach as he stretches it out and rolls it with the rolling pin. "It's about patience. If you're not patient, you'll tear the dough."
4. The second part of the rolling out process (one is bordo; two is rullo) involves stretching the dough from the center out until you can see the grain of the wood below. "There's a saying," says Funke, "do not stop rolling until you can see San Luca," a church in the distance. Or, in Funke's case, his hand. And Rustic Canyon's menu. (Check the slideshow for that one.)
5. Let the pasta dry for about 15 minutes.
6. Then Funke wraps the folded pasta in plastic, a deconstructed garbage bag actually, and lets it dry for about 10 more minutes. This wicks out some of the moisture.
7. Take the pasta out of the bag and let it dry a third time, for about another 15 minutes or so.
8. Now the pasta is ready to be cut and shaped. For the simplest tagliatelle or papardelle, just fold it up and cut the sheet of pasta into medium or large-ish strips. Or make farfalle or garganelli or tortellini or whatever you can convince your Dickensian children to make for you.
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9. Make a sauce. Funke makes a very simple tomato sauce with a cup or so of tomato passata (cook down some San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, fresh marjoram, olive oil and salt) that he heats in a saute pan with a very large nub of unsalted butter.
9. Boil water. Cook the pasta. Funke only boils his pasta for about 5 seconds. Yes, that's not a typo.
10. Lift the cooked pasta into a bowl, add the sauce, swirl it around and onto a pasta plate. Grate some Parmesan over the top. Eat immediately, preferably in the kitchen next to the stove.