Garganelli with Sausage Ragù
There really isn’t anything better than fresh pasta. It was really easy to find in Rome, either in restaurants or little shops where you could buy it and bring it home, watching them cut it in front of you. Of course you can find something that people call fresh pasta here, but it isn’t quite so fresh. In a moment of creativity last week I decided that I would give it a go. My husband and I had bought a pasta machine a few months ago and after one failed attempt at making ravioli, it had been collecting dust in a cabinet.
My mother-in-law has a wonderful recipe for pasta, but I decided for this endeavor that I would go with simplicity and make the recipe in a Mario Batali cookbook that I have for an egg and flour pasta. Bringing it all together was simple, forming a ball and letting it sit for 30 minutes, ok, no problem. The hard part, not so much hard, just a challenge with only two hands, was rolling it out. I decided to make a short pasta to make it easier with two hands. I don’t know if that actually made any difference. This is one of the reasons why there are so few photos of the process of making the pasta and more of the ragù that I made to dress the pasta.
I was convinced that my efforts were going to fail. And though it took me a few hours, with many breaks in between to calm my frustration, I successfully rolled out half of the pasta that I had prepared, not knowing that the rest would go bad in the fridge. You learn something new everyday, apparently you can refrigerate egg pasta, you should either dry it out (after it has been rolled out) or keep it in the freezer, the eggs will turn very quickly giving you a gray dough if left in the fridge.
Though the size of my garganelli were inconsistent, and they didn’t cook perfectly evenly, for a first try I was beaming with pride. This will probably be the last time I attempt to make pasta without helping hands, you really need an extra pair to crank the machine while you feed the pasta into the machine and to receive it at the other end with your other hand. The nonne who still make their own pasta must roll it out by hand with a rolling pin, and ladies I must say, I am impressed. I hope when I am a nonna to have the same dexterity.
Mario Batali’s Basic Pasta Dough from from Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 5 large eggs
Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs (mine flour and egg vesuvio erupted, making the next step a little messier).
Using a fork, beat the eggs together and then begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough.
Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. the dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.
When you unwrap the dough it will have softened – that is what you want, so do not be tempted to knead it into tension before rolling it out.
Cut the dough into 4 pieces, and wrap 3 of them again in plastic or just cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Flatten the piece of dough in a burger shape that is somewhat thicker in the middle and about ¼ inch thick at the edges. Set the rollers of the pasta machine to the widest setting. Dust the rollers with a bit of flour to be sure they are completely dry, and make sure there aren’t any bits of dried dough from last time. Using one hand, crank the handle to start the rollers, and feed the dough in with your other hand. As the flattened piece of dough emerges, catch it gently with a flat palm so as not to tear it. Fold the dough into thirds, flatten it slightly with your palms, and roll it out again. Repeat this process 5 times, then set the rollers to the next-thinnest setting and repeat the folding and process 6 times. At the third setting, repeat the process only 3 times, since the dough will be becoming more delicate. If the pasta sheet becomes too long to work with easily, cut it into 2 pieces and continue. As you work, dust the pasta sheet with a tiny pinch of flour only if it seems to be sticking – too much flour will dry out the dough. Roll the dough out through the progressively thinner settings, without folding it again, until you have reached the thinnest or next-to-thinnest setting, depending on the specific recipe. Do not pull the sheets of pasta out of the machine; rather, support each one lightly underneath as it emerges from the machine. (See below for how to make garganelli).
Garganelli with Sausage Ragù
- 3 Italian sausages, casings removed
- 4-6 slices of thinly sliced deli ham, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- ½ cup of red wine
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ of a can of peeled tomatoes with juice
- 2 tbsp butter
- grated parmigiano reggiano
Heat butter over medium heat in a dutch oven or a heavy bottomed pot. Add onions, carrots and celery and let cook until the onions are transparent, stirring frequently. Add sausages, breaking them up with a wooden spoon as they cook. When the sausages are broken up, add the chopped ham and stir, allow the sausage to cook through. Add red wine and add peeled tomatoes, squishing them in your hands over the pot to break them up. Add the tomato paste and 1 cup of water to dilute. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat to medium-low. Stirring occasionally and adding water as the ragù starts to dry out, allow to simmer for at least 3 hours.
In the meantime, roll out the pasta.
To make the garganelli, divide the pasta dough into 4 portions. Roll out each one through the thinnest setting on a pasta machine (this actually makes it too thin, the thinnest I rolled it out was the #5 setting on my machine), and lay the sheets on a lightly floured surface. Cut the pasta into 2-inch squares, I made some a little smaller and liked the results much better, I would say 1-inch squares. One at a time, lay a pencil or a knitting needle (same width of a pencil) diagonally across a bottom corner of each square, and roll up to form a quill, then slip the garganello off the needle onto a baking sheet dusted with semolina or flour, be very gentle when slipping the needle off of the pasta, you don’t want to press the pasta too hard. Cover with a damp towel.
After the ragù has simmered for at least 3 hours and you are ready to eat, fill a large pot with water for the pasta. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water starts to boil for the pasta add a small handful of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil. Drop the garganelli into the boiling water and cook until tender, 2 minutes. Ladle a few spoonfuls of ragù into a large serving bowl. Drain the pasta, since it is more delicate that pasta asciutta, I removed the pasta to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Toss with ragù, add more ragù as needed. Plate the pasta topping with a small spoonful of ragù and serve immediately with grated parmigiano reggiano.