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The Food Guys' Guide to Making Pasta

Handmade pasta

To a novice cook, making pasta from scratch sounds like a daunting task, and it does take some time and patience. Still, if you've got a food processor, a hand-cranked pasta machine and a pot of boiling water, it's mainly a process of flattening out a dough made of flour and eggs.

In the previous "Food Guys" episode, Greg Patent and Jon Jackson cooked up morel mushroom lasagna. Greg used store-bought lasagna noodles, but insisted that homemade is "immeasurably better."  Greg calls this his "machine-age" pasta recipe. You'll need flour, eggs, salt, boiling water, ice water, cold running water, a food processor and a hand-cranked countertop pasta machine.

1. Measure two level cups (10 ounces) of unbleached all-purpose flour into the food processor workbowl. Crack three large eggs into a separate container. While the motor runs, slowly add the eggs to the flour.  If the mixture doesn't gather into a ball within sixty seconds, pause, crack and beat a fourth egg, and add a tablespoon of it to the dough. If after thirty seconds the dough still hasn't become a ball, add some more of the egg. Finally, when the dough has formed a ball, process it for a full sixty seconds.

2. To allow the gluten in the dough to rest, take it out, knead it, wrap it in plastic, and let it sit on the counter for at least thirty minutes.

3. Attach your pasta machine to the counter with the rollers open to their widest setting. Divide the dough into six portions. Flatten the first portion, feed it into the machine, and crank. Divide this portion into thirds and feed it through the machine again.  Do this four times total with each of the six portions of dough, decreasing the rollers' width with each pass, till you're on nearly the thinnest setting. "You want the pasta thin, but not paper-thin," advises Greg. You should end up with twelve sheets of pasta.

4. Let the long strips air-dry, then cut them into lengths that fit the width of your pot. Boil 5 quarts of water with three tablespoons of salt. Drop in one of the twelve rectangles of pasta and let it cook for just fifteen seconds. Remove it and plunge it immediately into a basin of ice water. "The pasta is very sturdy, at this point," assures Greg.

5. Open up the now curled-up pasta rectangle and rinse it under cold running water to get rid of its coating of starch, handling it "as if you were washing fine linen." Remove it from the running water and put into a basin of cold water. Shake off the water, pat it dry and set it on clean cloth towels. Repeat. When done, you'll have twelve sheets of pasta, enough for four lasagna layers, three sheets per layer.

Jon comments: "You will love it and you'll swear by it. Especially if you get Greg to make it for you."

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 6/10/18 and 6/7/20. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)

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