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Craig Camp

All About Pasta

202 posts in this topic

I do realize that this is the Italy forum, but the Algerians make fresh pasta dough with semolina flour without adding eggs to it.

touaregsand,

as long as we talk about pasta it is pertinent to the Italy forum :laugh: .

In principle what you talk about sounds very similar to the way pasta is still made throughot Southern Italy, as Kevin mentioned. The differences are usually in shaping of the pasta. Is the Algerian dish you're referring about rolled or hand shaped?

By the way, if anyone's interested in reading an interesting report on one of the many ways to shape semolina pasta in Southern Italy, check out this blog article from fellow eGullet members katiaANDronald.


Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.

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By the way, if anyone's interested in reading an interesting report on one of the many ways to shape semolina pasta in Southern Italy, check out this blog article from fellow eGullet members katiaANDronald.

Amazing methods! :wub:

Is the Algerian dish you're referring about rolled or hand shaped?

The dough is made from fine semolina flour, water and salt. It is rolled into thin sheets to be used for lasagne type preparations or cut into varying widths for pasta dishes. The sauces can be very delicate, like slow cooked fennel or fiery hot and aromatic with spices.

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Apparently all the world uses dried pasta in making carbonara and, for all I know that's the authentic way. Nonetheless, the spaghetti at the Italian deli looked too good not to buy so that's what we're eating. But, as I Google recipes and scan eG in search of a good ratio of eggs, cheese, cream, peas (just kidding! back off!) :laugh: to one another and to pasta, it's clear that the recipes are based on dried pasta. So, anyone know a good rule of thumb along the lines of "1 pound of dried pasta equals 1.x pounds of fresh?"

Grazie.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Charles, I mean this in the best possible way: Hand over the guanciale. Now.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Okay. I chanted. Calmer.

Here's the best recipe. I know you're not all about authenticity, but I'll trust you on pig head, crab cakes and la cuisine pour le plupart if you'll believe me on this:

David Downie's well-researched recipe & most importantly, technique. Penne is traditional.

If you use fresh, you'll end up with a greasy mess. In general: oil-based sauces go with dried egg-less pastas while butter and cream-rich sauces take egg pasta, but that rule is based on the southern vs. northern divide.

There is a good carbonara counterpart called Fettuccine alla Papalina that calls for egg noodles, butter, cream, Parmesan and PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA, all of a more courtly nature befitting a Frenchie dressed in scarlet who's forced to live among Romans.

Guanciale is too robust, down to earth. Very Rusty Spoon. What you want is hard durham flour.

Edited to correct link, spelling, gender, etc. And to answer your original question: 1/4 lb. per serving whether dried or fresh is standard in many cookbooks with all possible differences of opinion acceptable, too.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I would assume 1 lb. dried = 1 lb. fresh, but I am certainly no authority.

Whatever you do, don't use the recipe from Batali's Molto Italiano. It's an artery-hardening, unbalanced grease bomb.


Edited by hjshorter (log)

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Okay.  I chanted.  Calmer. 

Here's the best recipe.  I know you're not all about authenticity, but I'll trust you on pig head, crab cakes and la cuisine pour le plupart if you'll believe me on this: 

David Downie's well researched carabonara.  Penne is traditional.

If you use fresh, you'll end up with a greasy mess.  In general: oil-based sauces go with dried egg-less pastas while butter and cream-rich sauces take egg pasta, but that rule is based on the southern vs. northern divide. 

There is a good carobanara counterpart called Fettuccine alla Papalina that calls for egg noodles, butter, cream, Parmesan and PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA, all of a more courtly nature befitting a Frenchie dressed in scarlet who's forced to live among them Romans.

Guanciale is too robust, down to earth.  Very Rusty Spoon.  What you want is hard durham flour.  Save the eggs to rot and throw during the revolution, man.

Edited to correct link & gender.  And to answer your original question: 1/4 lb. per serving whether dried or fresh is standard in many cookbooks with all possible differences of opinion acceptable, too.

But I would never put butter or cream in carbonara, right? I'd be flayed alive by the traditionalists. Can I use soft pasta now?


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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No.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I am sure the pasta has now been cooked and the discussion has become academic. But when did that ever stop a fanatic?

Downie uses penne because the restaurant La Carbonara uses penne because, as he explains, they use a tricky technique that is a lot easier with short pasta. Most trattorias use rigatoni for carbonara when they want a short format, but spaghetti, of course, is more usual. As anyone who has ever packed a grocery bag knows, a pound of spaghetti takes up a lot less room than a pound of rigatoni or penne, so it would have been demented for the shepherds and carbonai to schlep the short format into the mountains. And anyway, penne require machinery to make and have nothing to do with the Latian hinterland but rather originated in Liguria. So much for that.

Now, the original poster doesn't say whether the so-tempting fresh pasta was flour-and-water or egg pasta (or did I miss that part?), but let's say the former. Even so, I still don't see it for carbonara. And fresh spaghetti doesn't convince me at all. But for the sake of argument, let's say they're not spaghetti but tonnarelli, i.e. long like spaghetti but square cut, not extruded. Tonnarelli (= maccheroni alla chitarra) have eggs and here in Rome are almost always served with cacio e pepe, which is a friend of carbonara but without the eggs and pork. Fresh spaghetti would have to be considered morally lombrichelli (and their aliases), which is to say thick, handmade spaghetti, which are best (and traditionally) dressed with a simple tomato sauce with garlic, oil, and red pepper.


Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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If you need a summary:

1 lb fresh = 1 lb dry,  because a pound is a pound is a pound

Well... not exactly. A pound of pasta asciutta has virtually no water content. It's all semolina flour. A pound of pasta fresca has quite a bit of water content from the egg, water or other liquid ingredient that was used to moisten the dough. This is why uncooked pasta asciutta is hard and stiff and takes a long time to cook whereas uncooked pasta fresca is soft and flexible and takes very little time to cook. Since a pound of uncooked pasta asciutta contains more dry ingredient than a pound of uncooked pasta fresca, the pound of pasta asciutta will weigh more than the pound of pasta fresca once they are both cooked (this is also due to the fact that pasta asciutta absorbs considerable liquid as it cooks whereas pasta fresca does not).


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Now, the original poster doesn't say whether the so-tempting fresh pasta was flour-and-water or egg pasta (or did I miss that part?), but let's say the former.

Gaslight? The original poster is able to edit posts without that little line at the bottom documenting revisions. Deliberate melodrama aside, I suspect the text read "fresh pasta" or "egg pasta" first and not the rather innocuous word "spaghetti" given my reaction. I have no problems with the use of dried spaghetti rather than penne, tending to use it more frequently myself. I am not sure I've ever seen fresh, unfrozen pasta anywhere in the vicinity of Washington, D.C. that is made without eggs. BTW: I like La Carbonara's method for spaghetti, too.

* * *

For me, absorption is the crucial reason why the idea of using a fresh pasta made with eggs for carbonara does not sound appealing and the reason I find La Carbonara's technique perfect when using dried pasta made without eggs.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Notwithstanding the OP's use of the word "spaghetti" (which I recall from my first reading of this thread, if it makes any difference) and deliberate melodrama aside, the title of the thread made it quite clear and continues to make it quite clear, along with his follow-up post, that the OP is asking about fresh pasta and not dry pasta. That there is, technically, no such thing as "fresh spaghetti" is neither here nor there.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Although I do use my Magical Editing Powers to return to posts made years ago to correct grammatical errors, to fix typos (though, since this is not my forum, I cannot add the needed "a" to the title) and to make myself look prescient in matters including sporting events, restaurant openings and "Best Director" Oscars, my OP here is unedited and uses the words "pasta" and "spaghetti" more or less interchangeably in getting at the broader concern, which was restated admirably by Mr. Kinsey.

The spaghetti in question was egg pasta, rather than undried pasta asciutta and, rather change to penne when I went back to the store to get the dried stuff, I stuck with the spaghetti based on a strong statement by Dean Gold, proprietor of the well-regarded Dino's Dino's a few storefronts down from my deli, whom I encountered unexpectedly.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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... a pound is a pound is a pound

Well... not exactly. A pound of pasta asciutta has virtually no water content. It's all semolina flour. A pound of pasta fresca has quite a bit of water content from the egg, water or other liquid ingredient that was used to moisten the dough. This is why uncooked pasta asciutta is hard and stiff and takes a long time to cook whereas uncooked pasta fresca is soft and flexible and takes very little time to cook. Since a pound of uncooked pasta asciutta contains more dry ingredient than a pound of uncooked pasta fresca, the pound of pasta asciutta will weigh more than the pound of pasta fresca once they are both cooked (this is also due to the fact that pasta asciutta absorbs considerable liquid as it cooks whereas pasta fresca does not).

Never mind the weight, there's a terminology issue: pastasciutta, or pasta asciutta, is not dried pasta as opposed to pasta fresca but any pasta cooked and served with a condiment as opposed to floating in soup or broth. Dried pasta is pasta secca, or more usually these days pasta industriale.

Everything you say about the liquid content makes sense but where does it leave us arithmetically challenged for portion size? If I buy a pound/half kilo box of spaghetti for four portions, how much fresh fettuccine do I buy to feed the same four people the next night?


Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Hmm. That might be the original derivation of pastasciutta but I've never ever heard tit used that way by my friends in Italy. You're suggesting that one would call tagliatelle Bolognese "pastasciutta" because it's in a sauce and not in a broth? I've never heard that usage. Rather, I have heard this word used interchangably with pasta secca (secca and asciutta both having the meaning "dry"). Indeed, the Italian Wikipedia page for pasta begins saying: "In Italia la pasta secca, o pastasciutta, costituisce i tre quarti dei consumi totali" -- which indicates that they are typically viewed as having the same meaning.

As for weight-to-weight conversion between fresh egg and dry semolina, that's harder to say. If I'm making fresh pasta, I generally go for one egg's worth of pasta per person, plus one extra egg. So I'd make 5 egg's worth of pasta for four people. If I were to buy fresh pasta, I'd go by eye.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Hmm.  That might be the original derivation of pastasciutta but I've never ever heard tit used that way by my friends in Italy.  You're suggesting that one would call tagliatelle Bolognese "pastasciutta" because it's in a sauce and not in a broth?  I've never heard that usage.  Rather, I have heard this word used interchangably with pasta secca (secca and asciutta both having the meaning "dry").  Indeed, the Italian Wikipedia page for pasta begins saying: "In Italia la pasta secca, o pastasciutta, costituisce i tre quarti dei consumi totali" -- which indicates that they are typically viewed as having the same meaning.

Well, I wouldn't call it tagliatelle Bolognese in the first place, but yes, tagliatelle al ragù is/are certainly pastasciutta. Pastasciutta is widely used as a synonym for "pasta alimentare," the strictly correct name for what most people call just "pasta", and is not normally ("never" is a dangerous word, I'll grant you) used to distinguish fresh from dried. The Zingarelli Italian dictionary defines "pastasciutta o pasta asciutta" as "pasta alimentare, di varie fogge, cotta con sale in acqua bollente, scolata e variamente condita ...." Oretta Zanini De Vita's authoritative "La Pasta" repeatedly makes the distinction between pasta shapes served in soup and those served asciutto/a/i/e, with a condimento or ragù. This is from her tagliatelle entry: "Utilizzo: Asciutte, con i condimenti tipici della regione, o in brodo, ..." From her bucatini entry: "Oggi con il termine bucatini si intende una pasta industriale secca. Ma l'antico bucatino di pasta fresca..."


Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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I was thinking about ways to make this determination, and I decided to look at the labels on a few brands of both dry and fresh-refrigerated pasta in the supermarket. I though just looking at calorie count per ounce would go a long way towards removing the water from the equation. For dry pastas, the range of the brands I looked at was about 200-240 calories per 2-ounce serving (with egg noodles being the highest). For the fresh pastas, it was 230-240 calories per 3-ounce serving (I tried to look at the brands that didn't have oil and other crud in them -- just flour, eggs, water). So I think, as a first effort, we could maybe hypothesize a 2:3 ratio for dried:fresh.


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Interesting, Maureen. You learn something new every day. I'd swear that's not the impression I got of the way that word is used by my friends when I'm in Italy, but then again food isn't my primary focus when I'm there.

Steven: Interesting idea as well. Somehow, using 50% more fresh compared to dry seems like an awfully large increase. But maybe it isn't...


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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The other day I decided to try my hand at making orecchiette. I made a dough of mostly durum wheat semolina plus a bit of AP flour (roughly a 3:1 ratio), salt, and water. I kneaded the dough for 15 minutes, then formed the pasta. I used half of the batch that night for a tasty dinner, and set the rest aside to air-dry completely.

The problem was, a number of them broke completely in half while drying, and many more formed incomplete cracks which caused them to break when I added them to the water. They weren't even particularly thin -- they were pretty much the same build as bought orecchiette. What's going on? Is there a special way to dry pasta that prevents cracking?


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I've experienced the same problem drying pasta. And if they don't get brittle, they get mold on them. So I freeze pasta instead. I've done it with orecchiette and it's fine. You're not going to achieve the same texture and quality as artisinal dried pasta, but they have their own appeal anyways.

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Tim, how wet was the dough?

When I'm making orecchiette, I try to make the dough as stiff as possible (too stiff to practically knead by hand, really). I also cut the disks and let them dry for an hour or so before pressing them out to shape.

I've never had any troubles with cracking after drying 24 hours.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Since returning from Italy I have been making fresh pasta. I have some sheets of fresh pasta that I want to use in a lasagna recipe. It has mostly bechamel sauce with some hand-crushed tomatoes scattered in the recipe for moisture. No ricotta cheese.

My question...is it necessary to parboil the fresh pasta sheets before assembling or will they cook enough in baking with the natural moisture of the ingredients? I have seen some recipes that call for a quick boiling water plunge followed by ice water bath...then on to towels, even for fresh pasta. My sheets are thin (made on the next to the last notch on the manual pasta machine.)

What is your experience with this?


Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.

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We have done it both ways. We found it is not necessary to precook fresh posta for lasagna.

Other opinions?

Jmahl


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