Stop buying pasta you idiot.
It’s time to make your own.
So, I bet you assume the only people who make their own pasta are old disgruntled Italian Nonnas who constantly tell you to eat more while suggesting you should find a ‘nice boy or girl’ to marry.
Well, apart from that being a fairly lazy stereotype in aid of a cheap laugh, you’re completely wrong.
Because here’s the thing: Eggs and Flour.
Eggs… and fucking Flour. Seriously.
Apart from a pinch of salt, that’s ALL THERE IS TO IT. You’ve already got all the ingredients for pasta and you didn’t even realise it.
And here’s the other crazy thing; you can spend all day desperately trying to impress your friends by making some elaborate dinner or… you can just combine two ingredients and your dinner guests will lose their fucking minds. This is as close as you get to a culinary magic trick. Just watch their faces once you tell them in that ‘oh-so-nonchalant’ tone that you handmade the pasta.
In short, people are unjustifiably impressed by the correct combining of eggs and flour, and so you should capitalise on this idiocy.
Oh, did I also mention there’s no measures to speak of? That’s right! You’re just going to guess your way through this, and miraculously, it’s still going to work! Because here’s the great thing about making pasta: You’ve got do do this entirely by feel. You can’t just pop in the perfect measures, give it a mix and be done with it, no no — you’ve got to get your hands in there and feel it out, you need to know your pasta, become one with the pasta, you are the pasta, and the pasta is you.
Actually it’s just eggs and flour but you get my drift.
Anyway, here’s how you do it.
First up you need to make a little volcano like some school science experiment. I’m serious! Get your flour and tip some out on the bench top. Make sure you’re on a smooth flat non-permeable surface — marble is best, plastic is fine, a polished timber works to, look, just don’t do this on a park bench or like, a rock.
Now, you need make a little caldera. (just google it) — make your caldera about as wide as a plate and make the sides high enough to hold some eggs inside.
You can use as many or as few eggs as you like, but generally two or three is a good place to start.
Crack your eggs into the middle of your caldera to give it that real caldera look (but also because this is how the recipe goes) — Also, drop a few pinches of salt in about now.
Okay, so here’s the tricky part and an inescapable truth: The bad news is that you’re going to completely screw this up a few times before you get it right. The good news is that eggs and flour are relatively cheap. You’re also going to get quite messy, so I suggest wearing the kind of clothes you’d put on if you were about to paint a house. (trust me on this)
Or an apron I guess.
Get a fork, and slowly start stirring the eggs inside your crater of flour, as you stir, bits of flour from the inside should start mixing into the eggs, and your crater should start widening out slowly as the mix in the middle increases in size. Don’t worry if it’s all looking a big gloopy and there’s big chunks of undissolved flour — stay with it. You should also continuously sprinkle more flour over the top of your mixture as you go.
What you’re trying to do here is create a dough, so you want to keep stirring and adding flour until it gets thick enough that you can start moving it around with your hands — keep the flour up to it, and eventually you’re going to get a very fluid blob that’s starting to hold together..
If you start moving it with your hands and it all starts sticking to your fingers, you’ve probably starting handling it too early, but don’t panic! — just add more flour, get those bits off your fingers, add it all back together and keep moving it.
Quick side note: It’s important at this point to look confident while doing this. Even if your juvenile dough is playing up and wreaking havoc across your bench, remain calm and serene as if it’s all part of the plan. People watching you will be impressed by this perceived professionalism.
Now, the method here is using the bottom of your palm, push out the dough, fold it over, push it out again. Keep doing this, and keep adding flour. Fold, Push, Fold, Push, Sprinkle, Fold, Push.
What you’re aiming for is a nice elastic consistency. If it’s sticking to your hand a bit you need more flour. Sometimes it’s going to feel way too dry, but there’s actually a lot of moisture locked up in there — you just need to keep working it (folding, pushing out, etc) and eventually the whole thing will lose that dryness and you’ll need a touch more flour again.
The sweet spot you’re looking for here is a ‘tacky’ feeling — it should feel slightly sticky, but when you pull your hand off it, nothing sticks to your hand — like a freshly varnished table or your clammy hands after a job interview.
Here’s the test: get it into a nice little ball shape, plop it on the table and stick your finger into the middle of it — if your finger comes out with nothing stuck onto it, it’s GOOD!
If you feel like it’s a bit too dry, and you really can’t bring it back to that sweet spot, run your hands under a tap, shake them off, and keep working the dough — that tiny extra bit of moisture is sometimes all you need to bring it back.
Tired yet? You should be. This is a labour of love. How’s that face? Are you still looking like you know what you’re doing?
Okay — Next up, get it into a little ball, and wrap that ball up in Glad-wrap (cling film for you non-Australians) and leave it in the shade somewhere for about an hour. Or if you’re in a rush half an hour, or even 45 minutes. Whatever works for you really.
Come back to it, unwrap it (if it’s sticking to the gladwrap, which it probably shouldn’t, just add a bit more flour)
Now cut your little ball into quarters, sprinkle some flour over your bench, get your roller and start rolling out your sections of dough.
Get a nice little rectangle happening, and then fold that over, and roll it out again. Then fold that over, and roll that out. Once you’ve done a few folds, roll it out for good, be sure to sprinkle more flour over the dough every now and again — as you roll it the dough can get stickier, and you don’t want it sticking to your bench (this is why you put a bit of flour down)
If each piece gets too long before it gets thin enough, just cut it in half and roll it out in parts.
Once you’ve got it to the thickness of some nice tagliatelle or fettuccine, you then just need to neatly fold up your rolled out dough (I like to fold mine into the width of say a credit-card) and from there, just cut along the roll for the width of the tagliatelle or fettuccine you’d like — then, very carefully — unroll each strand of pasta and plop it onto a plate — be sure to throw in a sprinkle of flour here and there so it doesn’t all start to stick together.
Main thing here is that if as any point anything is sticking… add more flour.
Then do this with the rest of it, and you should by this time have made a pretty horrendous mess (which people will be impressed by).
From here, boil some water (I like to put pepper, salt and a dash of oil into my water. But hey, you do you) and throw your pasta in once it’s boiling (it should only need about two minutes) and then pull it out add whatever you want with it and you’re ready to go and act all nonchalant around your friends!
Or, in reality — you completely fucked it all up, and you’re throwing it in a bin. But that’s okay, just pour some more flour, crack some eggs, start again and remember, Be the pasta.
Editors note: It has been brought to my attention by several passionate Italians that this article incorrectly suggests you should add oil and pepper to your pasta water, this is, according to them “in no uncertain terms the worst thing one can do” and judging from the threatening tone of their emails, I fully believe them.
Furthermore, you can now also buy a poster of this little piece which looks a little like this:
You can find that here.