One of the things that attracted me to studying Italian cooking this year is my obsession with fresh homemade pasta. There really is nothing from the grocery store that can substitute for the same taste and texture. The noodles are smooth and slightly chewy and the slightly uneven and variable edges give dishes a rustic vibe and distinct home made quality.
This pasta, Pici, is a great introduction to making homemade pasta. No expertise or special equipment is needed. All you need is flour, water, an egg and an afternoon. The more help you have the better and it would be a great activity with kids so get people in the kitchen to help you and have fun. It won’t look perfect, that is part of its charm! Embrace the imperfection knowing that no extruder or machine cutter can replicate this homemade delicacy.
Most fresh pasta recipes you will see use only egg and flour. Here I used just one egg and water with olive oil. This is traditional to Tuscany and with tomato sauces and this shape I feel it is superior. There are also all different combinations of all purpose and semolina flour. Higher percentages of semolina will yield a chewier dough. If you don’t have semolina flour you can use entirely all purpose flour. Some recipes use up to 50% semolina but I find this to be far too chewy and have come up with the approximate ratio below.
Fresh Homemade Pici (Hand Rolled Pasta)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup semolina flour
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 egg
- 1 TBSP olive oil
Mix together the all purpose and semolina flour. Form a mound with the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board or directly on the counter top. Using your fist hollow out the center of the mound to form a volcano shape. Ensure the center of the volcano is large enough to handle the liquid without overfilling. Often this is bigger than it appears, move your fist in circular motion to widen the inset. Reshape the sides of the mound then slowly pour the egg, water and olive oil into the center of the mound. Using a fork whisk the egg and water and continue to stir in a circle slowly incorporating the flour into the liquid. (This can be difficult to get right. For your first couple attempts keep a bowl nearby. If the mound becomes compromised dump the contents of the board minus some flour into the bowl and continue whisking adding additional flour.) Eventually you will no longer need the fork as the flour/water mixture becomes more solid. Begin to knead the dough adding additional flour until the pasta dough comes together in a solid ball. You will likely have additional flour left over. Clear the flour off the board and begin kneading the dough. Most people make the mistake of not kneading the dough enough. Set a timer, turn on some music, and move your hips to the kneading motion. The total time will be ~ 20 minutes. Knead until the dough is smooth and then about 10 minutes longer. Place dough in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap for at least an hour.
Brake off pieces of the dough approximately the size of a large cherry. Using your fingers begin to roll and stretch the dough. The actual final diameter is unimportant as long as pieces are consistent. Sometimes it will be easier to divide into two segments and continue rolling. The uneven and different lengths are what put your signature on the pasta- embrace it!
Special Equipment Needed: None
Stay tuned for the perfect sauce for this pasta!