Basta! It’s Homemade Pasta
American Sfoglino – A Master Class in Handmade Pasta
Fresh pasta – food that I love, that I only make for people I love. Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but we can show people we love them all year round.
A “sfoglino” is a pasta maker. Author Evan Funke is a Los Angeles chef who worked in Italy and mastered the art of handmade pasta from the Emilia-Romagna region (the wondrous place where lasagna and Bolognese sauce come from). This book does a deep dive into a specific food, and does it really well. There are four doughs, directions for 14 different shapes and then dishes that pair with those shapes. The sauces and fillings are reasonably simple, classic and less so, including lasagna, pappardelle with duck ragu, triangoli with honey and aged pecorino cheese, caramelle (looks like little candies in wrappers) with potato filling and porcini mushrooms and ricotta gnocchi with white truffles. You will be inspired – and hungry – looking at the beautiful food photography.
On the one hand, the instructions for making pasta are very detailed and there are lots of helpful pictures. On the other hand, Funke takes himself seriously and is strict. If you are a rules follower like me, you will be nervous if you don’t follow the instructions.
The egg dough is excellent and easy to work with. I will admit to one big act of rebellion. Funke’s philosophy is “F**k your Pasta Machine”. He gives very detailed instructions about how to roll out the pasta using a rolling pin. I’m sure it works. However, since we have a pasta machine, we used it to roll out the pasta. Sue me. It was delicious.
Making homemade pasta is a bit of work, but if the results are good, I’m willing to do it (sometimes). Despite what I said about the sauces being simple, I chose the one that wasn’t. I made the tagliatelle with simmered onions, which tastes like French onion soup. It started with marrow bones, which had to be roasted. The onions cooked for hours and had to be watched. The most important thing though, is that it was really good. It was rich and meaty and a little sweet from the wine and onions. It wasn’t difficult but it was a project. Hence my comment about only cooking for people I love.
We (the royal we) also made a version of strichetti (bows) with prosciutto, arugula and tomatoes. When I say “a version” I use that term loosely. We made fettuccine because we weren’t sure that the bows would work and we would be sad if they didn’t. And we used asparagus instead of tomatoes and arugula. Still worked, with the nutty butter and salty prosciutto and cheese.
I’m not a “Canadian sfoglino”, but I do know this. If you make someone homemade pasta they will be happy. It shows them that you love them. If you don’t know how, or you want to up your game, Emilia-Romagna style, this is a great way to do it.