Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
Pasta hates me. Or more accurately, pasta and pasta machines hate me. See, this is the second time I attempted to make fresh pasta and the pasta machine gave me the finger. I don't know what I ever did to you, pasta machine... can we kiss and make up?
The last time I tried to make pasta, I took my brand new machine out of its box and began to roll out my dough only to find that a piece of the metal on my machine was bent causing the pasta to clump up and get stuck. Fooey. I could brush that off as a mechanical failure, though.
This time I enlisted the help of my BFF and a different machine, very confident that all would go as planned. The pasta rolled out into beautiful sheets which I liberally dusted with flour and set aside. I was so proud! Then came time to cut it...
Where did I go wrong?! I don't know, but the machine refused to cut all the way through the pasta creating lumps of mangled, angry spaghetti. ANGRY spaghetti. After a couple attempts I decided to just cut it into fettuccine since that was easier to separate by hand at least. But after cutting a couple sheets into fettuccine, I came to the realization that all the rest of the sheets had stuck together despite my best efforts to avoid just that!! Why?!
The best I can do is blame the humidity. It's always the humidity.
I did end up with a small, but very delicious bundle of pasta anyway, so not all was lost. I still need to settle the score with Pasta though....
In the end I made some gnocchi to complete this challenge. They were light and fluffy and extremely easy to make. Probably what I should have made to begin with!
Potato Gnocchi with Fresh Peas and Pancetta
Makes about 3 servings
For the gnocchi
8 oz potatoes (whole, unpeeled)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
For the sauce
3 thick slices pancetta
1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup parmigiano
1/2 cup fresh peas, shelled and blanched for about 2 minutes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Put potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil and cook until very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool for a couple minutes, then peel the skin off. (You can then use the boiling water to blanch your peas.) While still hot, put the peeled potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl.
2. Add the egg to the riced potato and mix well. Add the flour in two stages, mixing until a uniform dough forms. Divide the dough in half, and on a floured work surface, roll each half out into a 1/2 - 1 inch thick log (depending on how big you want them). Using a bench scraper or knife, cut the log into 1/2 inch pieces. With the back of fork or your finger, make an indentation into each gnocchi on one side. Refrigerate until needed.
3. While preparing your sauce, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi - they are done when the float to the surface. Drain.
4. To make the sauce, cook the pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked pancetta from the pan and set aside. There should be about a tablespoon of fat left in the pan - if there's more, drain the excess.
5. Add the minced garlic to the pan with the fat. Saute for just a minute, then sprinkle in the flour, whisking constantly for about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping up any little brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Let simmer until beginning to thicken, then add the parmigiano and peas and cook for another minute. Add the crispy pancetta, reserving a little bit for garnish. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the drained gnocchi and mix gently. Serve immediately topped with the reserved pancetta and extra parmesan if desired.