Simple, Beautiful, Authentically Italian:
I may have only been gone three days, but I missed our kitchen! I missed the way it anchors our life together as a family. And I missed the food; the preparation, the process, the cooking, and then serving it to Rebekah.
We’re doing fairly well with the “52-weeks, 52 new recipes” challenge; but I did skip last week with all the travel prep. So yesterday, eager to get back in the groove again, I asked Rebekah to pick out something special.
“Pasta,” she said, without missing a beat. “Fresh, made from scratch by Derek; pasta, served with the meat sauce recipe from that fabulous lasagna you made last month.”
Great idea! The meat sauce is complex and labor intensive, but I’ve done it before so I went in with some confidence. Then the pasta machine was a birthday gift. We’ve been talking about fresh pasta for months, so this was my opportunity to give it a whirl.
So I cleared the decks, cleared the afternoon, gathered my ingredients, and prepared to make my first ever pasta-from-scratch.
It’s All About the Prep:
Oh. My. Goodness! Talk about good. Also talk about a lot of work! Of course, the first time always takes three times as long, but I followed the directions (the simplest pasta recipe I could find) to the letter, and the result was, in a word, spectacular.
Make a mound of all purpose flour with the salt added; create a well in the middle; put the eggs and a little olive oil in the well; drag in the dry ingredients until you have a sticky ball; knead for six to eight minutes, adding a teaspoon of cold water every now and then; make sure the dough ball is smooth, consistent, plastic, and not sticky; let it rest 15-minutes in plastic wrap.
Now I get to play with my pasta machine. How cool is that! Roll, stretch, dust with flour, fold, repeat. Reduce roller width one setting at a time; watch the pasta get longer at every pass; repeat until preferred thickness is reached. What fun!
Finally, run pasta through cutting tool; hang on rack to dry; enjoy aroma of simmering meat sauce; don’t forget the glass of wine for the cook.
One amazing thing about home-made pasta is that it only needs three-minutes to cook. Take the meat sauce off the heat to rest, throw the pasta in the pot at the last minute, then serve fresh, with a little parmesan sprinkled on top of the sauce. “Bella e gustoso” (beautiful and tasty!).
About the Meat-Sauce (and the love):
A short note on the meat sauce: Sauté veggies with garlic and pancetta; stir in oregano and a little nutmeg; brown meat; add finely chopped chicken liver; introduce wine then reduce; add beef broth and tomato paste; simmer over two hours; stir in heavy cream; cool; stir in beaten egg; simmer again for 30 minutes; rest while making pasta. Serve.
Like all things that are good, nurturing, and worthwhile, for me the secret of a great meal is in the preparation. Fresh, carefully measured ingredients; unhurried; simplicity; time to enjoy the meal; and love.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Seriously, friends, love makes anything taste better. Love that serves, love that goes out of its way to put the other first; love that invests in the relationship.
Like I often say, there’s much of theology in a good meal – DEREK
(enjoy the entire process in the gallery below)