Home-made spaghetti

Home-made spaghetti

By
From
Modern Italian Food
Serves
4
Photographer
Earl Carter

The anti-salt phobia, coupled with a general lack of knowledge about Italian cooking, means that all too often pasta is cooked in unsalted water. This drives me nuts! It is particularly maddening when one has to explain to new apprentices in the restaurant kitchen who do not take the instruction seriously.

I can only imagine the training schools and colleges do not reinforce the practice.

So, here are the principles for cooking pasta: first, the water must be salted so that it tastes almost like sea water. That means using at least one tablespoon of salt per litre of water.

Second, commercial pasta must be cooked al dente, not just for taste and texture, but also for health reasons. If you read your Atkins diet book, you will discover that the complex carbohydrates in pasta are more easily absorbed by the body if the pasta is cooked soft. If you cook your spaghetti al dente, then – Atkins says – almost 20 per cent of the carbohydrates will pass through you instead of into you!

Third, if you work in commercial kitchens and need to pre-cook your pasta, pre-cook it very al dente. Do not plunge it into cold water, but spread it out on your work bench to cool. Drizzle it with a little oil to prevent sticking. When needed, plunge the pasta into hot, salted water and cook for as little as 20 seconds. This will ensure that it stays fresh and al dente. And there is no reason for adding oil to the cooking water.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Here is a traditional pasta recipe that uses 3 large eggs and 300 g flour. There are various kinds of pasta flour available in Italian delis, but normal plain flour will do just as well if you can’t locate pasta flour. Do not add any salt to the dough; the salt will be in the water when you cook the pasta.
  2. To make, just mix the paste by hand until you have a smooth shiny dough that is neither wet nor dry. Rest for a while and then roll out the dough using a pasta machine. The settings usually go from 1 to 8 or 9. I suggest you start with 1 and make a nice, even sheet by folding in on itself and rolling through the machine a few times.
  3. Change to setting 3 and roll it through a few more times. Finally, roll it through a couple of times on a 6 or 7 setting. Cut the large piece into smaller pieces about 25 cm long and run them through the spaghetti cutter. They’ll come out nice and thick. Cook the pasta straight away or freeze it (I like to spread it out in pizza boxes). Cook the frozen pasta straight from the freezer. Obviously the cold will lower the water temperature, so make sure the water is boiling really vigorously.
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