Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
eGCI Team

Q&A: Stuffed Pastas

Recommended Posts

JosephB   

Stunning! Bravo Moby!

Questions:

1. Why the oil in the dough? I have always used Hazan's recipe which uses only eggs and flour, and makes no mention of oil. I haven't found a book which calls for oil in the dough and explains why.

2. What kind of yield are you getting with your basic recipe? If you were to 2x or 3x the recipe would you work in one large batch? I find that it becomes difficult to contain the eggs in the well when the volume grows.

3. I've often played around with the ratio of yolk to whole eggs, thinking the yolk would add richness and color, but I've never thought that the white part of the egg could be eliminated completely. Doesn't the albumin contribute something to the structural integrity of the dough?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   
Stunning! Bravo Moby!

Questions:

1. Why the oil in the dough? I have always used Hazan's recipe which uses only eggs and flour, and makes no mention of oil. I haven't found a book which calls for oil in the dough and explains why.

2. What kind of yield are you getting with your basic recipe? If you were to 2x or 3x the recipe would you work in one large batch? I find that it becomes difficult to contain the eggs in the well when the volume grows.

3. I've often played around with the ratio of yolk to whole eggs, thinking the yolk would add richness and color, but I've never thought that the white part of the egg could be eliminated completely. Doesn't the albumin contribute something to the structural integrity of the dough?

Thank you!

1. You can certainly do it without the oil - and I usually omit it if I'm making any straight noodles (taglietelle etc). But with ravioli you want something slightly more flexible. By lucky coincidence, chickens are considerate enough to produce large eggs which go perfectly with 100g of flour! Really, it's jolly nice of them. The problem is, if you need a little more liquid to make pasta slightly more flexible, what are your options? A tablespoon or so of water, an extra egg yolk, or a splash of oil - and it's a matter of preference. I find just a little oil gives the pasta a bit more flexibility. In the 400g recipe, I use an extra yolk, plus a splash of oil. You could probably omit the oil, and still have a pretty flexible dough - but I wanted to take out any possibility of it being too stiff, if there were beginners trying it for the first time.

2. I find in polite society, you can get away with 100g flour per person for straight pastas. The problem, I just don't know anyone who's that polite when faced with a really good bowl of food. (And what is it with some of these books? The number of River Cafe recipes that use 250g/8oz dried pasta and say 'Feeds 6 people!' Who on earth are they feeding? 4 year olds?) So - I usually go up to 150g of flour per person to be safe - for big eaters (and depending on what sauce, etc).

With stuffed pastas it's a little different, because you use less dough. Also, it becomes harder to cook them for increasingly larger numbers (so feeding 10 people with just ravioli would send me running behind the couch). But you learn to negotiate. You couldn't make ravioli or tortelli for 10 unless you had at least two very big pots of water. But tortellini or tortelloni (in the next course) are much sturdier, and can take a little bashing around in a boiling pot. Also, as a starter, you only have five or six per portion, and again it becomes manageable. For a main, you'll want to start with 8 or so per portion, with enough for seconds.

Yes to containing the eggs. Above 6, I'd probably start looking towards my food processor, or do it in two batches initially, and then combine them when kneading.

3. I bet Adam Balic or Jackal10 would know about the albumin aspect. I noticed that the Thomas Keller recipe used 30 egg yolks per kilo of flour - which works out to 3 yolks per 100g, or 3 yolks = 1 egg. Perhaps the oil makes up for a loss in albumin?

Basically if you can use water - which many middle and southern Italian recipes do - you can use egg yolk. If you're experienced, you'll probably find a difference in texture in the handling of the dough - but so long as you knead it properly, I'm not sure if the mouth feel will be significantly different.

Thanks for the questions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent job Moby. Photography reminds me of Robert Fresons French food book (is compliment).

What stuffed pasta don't you like making? Are there some real tricky types out there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Thanks Adam.

The French Laundry angolotti recipe defeated me - there's a great picture of them (pg77) - they have this kind of half-attached 'floating' third wall on one side which I've never seen anywhere - but I've only tried it once. (I think Ramsey misread the same Keller instructions, and then published his own 'ravioli' recipe in the Secrets book.) Also, I've never tried any of the Chinese dim sum shapes.

Other than that - no, they're all pretty simple - just the smaller they are, the more time consuming they are to make in quantity. You have to decide one Sunday to produce tortellini in brodo for a large number of people before you'll realise why Italians have such large families. It's always best with a production line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Abra   

This is wonderful, and timely! Although I cook for a living, I'm just getting started with pasta, using the KA roller attachment. Being an experienced bread maker, where I prefer to work with the super-slack wet doughs that produce very open bread, and a reasonably experienced pie dough maker, I'm having trouble getting used to the drier feel of pasta dough. Can you give us some more guidelines or analogies as to how the dough should feel? I've been using the food processorr to get it started - is there any reason to do it by hand? Would I understand the dough better that way?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Analogies... hmm.

Bread dough has a softness and elasticity, doesn't it - but you'll know what I mean when I talk about the difference between a 'wet' dough and a 'dry' dough? There's that moment when it suddenly loses it's stickiness, or dampness, and becomes pliable without it - maybe you just added two more grams of flour during kneading, and suddenly it became smooth and dry? That's what you're aiming for. Pliant, and smooth, but with more resistence, more feeling of density than bread dough, and dry - but not too dry (or it dries out when you're turning them into pastas!). And pastry dough (I make a lot of sucree) scares the hell out of me, because you have to keep the butter cold enough to be workable, but not warm enought to melt - so there's always something brittle about it, which is the antithesis of pasta.

You can do an experiment - 200g flour plus two large eggs Vs. 200g. plus two large eggs plus an egg yolk or tablespoon of oil - when the former dough comes together, you'll have to work it before it eventiually becomes smooth. It's a bit of a wrestling match sometimes, and you think the dough is never going to relax, and become smooth - the second will come together much faster.

And using the food processor is absolutely fine - and actually the most efficient way of combining all of the flour (not to mention larger batches of ingredients). Just whizz it until it resembles course bread crumbs, or comes together in a ball, and turn it out and start kneading. I think it's worth learning the old ways though. What if you're stranded on an island somewhere with only several kilos of flour, some lovely looking eggs, and your wits about you and someone's holding a viscious looking piece of fruit to your head! How are you going to make pasta then? :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a beautiful experience I just had reading your course and feasting on the beautiful photos. I do not have a pasta press and am not an olympic level Italian grandmother so I will have to get one. Are they really expensive? What are the most important factors - i.e., if I see a cheap no-name one, what should I look out for to see if it's good enough quality? I almost bought a gelato machine today, thank goodness I didn't, since we're supposed to be watching our expenses.

Again, I cannot thank you enough for that really beautiful course. I cannot wait to feast my eyes upon the next course.

-Lucy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Lucy - they're relatively inexpensive. What country are you in? In America, the hand-cranked models go from 35 dollars to around 50 (for over priced). In the UK, they tend to be under 40 pounds. If you were in Italy, you could probably find them cheaper.

The two models I see the most are the Imperia, and the Atlas Marcato - and either will do. But I wouldn't be too worried. I've never found a cheap cheap one - but I'd be the first one to buy it if I did! Next we go into Potbelly ravioli, more tortelli, capelletti, and tortellini - then on to Pansotti, Tortelloni, and Raviolo. Hope you enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am as excited by your class on pasta as I am about how this is also a class on 'how to present a class.'

You've convinced me to let go and fiddle around with the egg/flour proportions, and even to get some pasta making friends together to try different doughs and compare them.

Is pasta ever traditionally made with just egg white? And if so, is oil mandatory in that mix? I would think it might wind up a less pliable dough.

Thanks for the class ... I am really looking forward to Part 2.

Theabroma

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
slkinsey   

I have recently switched over to the KitchenAid pasta roller attachment (which I very much recommend), but used an Imperia for years. Interesting story: I received my Imperia from my mother. It is the pasta machine her family bought when they were living in Rome shortly after the war. Anyway, fast forward about 45 years... I finish a job in Italy and meet some friends from the States. They say that they want to buy a pasta machine. I, of course, recommend the Imperia and we go to a local shop. The Imperia machine we found there was exactly the same as my 50 year old machine. No cheapo plastic parts. No thin crappy metal. No shoddy craftsmanship. Exactly the same. Not too often you can say that nowadays.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Thanks Theabroma (btw your salsas were fantastic).

I've never seen a dough made just with the whites, but I don't see whay you couldn't. Certainly there are doughs - mostly semolina - made just with water, and type '00' doughs made just with egg yolks - so you should try it and see what you come up with. Quite a pale pasta, I'd imagine.

If you have friends who enjoy cooking - that would be a great idea. This isn't rocket science - and there are so many variations even among those who'll tell you there are no variations - that you'll find you can come to very similar results using different methods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Yeah - I bought my Atlas in Tuscany. The two are pretty ubiquitous.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Abra   

Thanks, Moby. I'll be experimenting this weekend, and am looking forward to the next installments!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Let us know how it works out - or how it doesn't!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sequim   
What a beautiful experience I just had reading your course and feasting on the beautiful photos.  I do not have a pasta press and am not an olympic level Italian grandmother so I will have to get one.  Are they really expensive?  What are the most important factors - i.e., if I see a cheap no-name one, what should I look out for to see if it's good enough quality?  I almost bought a gelato machine today, thank goodness I didn't, since we're supposed to be watching our expenses. 

I got one for Christmas from my sister and b-inlaw. It's called Al Dente. I know this isn't one of the ones mentioned but it is an Italian made one which I heard it had to be to be any good and it seems to work just fine with 7 levels of refinement and two cutters. There's no way I could get my dough thin enough without it. I'm sure they didn't pay over $40+.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
slbunge   

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this fine course.

In an odd twist, yesterday I was thinking about what to do with a butternut squash we have laying about. I immediately thought of ravioli. Lo and behold, this morning I ran smack into this thread. The stars have aligned.

Anywho, very well done. Can't wait to get started.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sequim   

I've been making pasta as you know, Moby, from my posting on another thread. It's going well for me (making enough for one plus leftovers) using a proportion of 1 C flour (whatever kind I happen to be using) to 1 large egg with splash of olive oil, salt and water as needed. I felt like the addition of oil added to the pliability of kneading the dough and less stickiness. My pasta has turned out extremely tender, almost overly tender, and I think I'd like to add alittle more something to it - more texture, more flavor. Any suggestions? Rather than as a bed for the sauce, I'd actually like my pasta to taste well with a minimal addition of other ingredients.

Thanks for the course and I can't wait to move on to stuffed pastas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

slbunge - welcome - and let us know how it turns out.

Sequim - bravo. When I was eating tortelli in Parma, it became about very simple but perfect things - the pasta, the filling, the cheese and butter.

If you want to get seriously into the pasta-ness of it, I think you need to consider consistency - so, for starters, have considered getting some scales? With scales, you can stick to 100g per large egg, and not have that over-tenderness you mention - which is fine for tortelli etc, but inhibits taglietelle (which you should leave the pasta to dry for a while before cutting anyway).

The difference between cups of flour is dramatic - and although with years of experience, you might get a very similar product, why not start weighing, and get that part out of the way?

Second, you can start really getting into the quality of flour and eggs. Not all type '00' flour in the same. And are you using the absolutely best quality eggs you can get your hands on? I just found a shop around the corner that imports eggs from Emiglia-Romagna - the yolks are an amazing gold - I'm going to start experimenting with them. You can do the same.

Third - start playing with proportions of flour. i.e. a 75/25 split of '00' to semolina. Then a 75/25 split, plus substituting 3 egg yolks for 1 egg. It can get pretty zen.

Fourth - play with thicknesses, and cooking times. These make a huge difference. You know the way Batali finishes his pasta off in the sauce or 30 seconds? Try that. Play with cooking the pasta for 30 seconds less than you would usually, and letting it absorb something else. Or adding pasta water to your melted butter and making an emulsion - I could go on...

Fifth - if you want to get really funky, I came across a recipe that incorporates cooked and pureed sausage meat and chicken livers into the past dough!

Let me know how it goes!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sequim   
Sequim - bravo. When I was eating tortelli in Parma, it became about very simple but perfect things - the pasta, the filling, the cheese and butter.

If you want to get seriously into the pasta-ness of it, I think you need to consider consistency - so, for starters, have considered getting some scales? With scales, you can stick to 100g per large egg, and not have that over-tenderness you mention - which is fine for tortelli etc, but inhibits taglietelle (which you should leave the pasta to dry for a while before cutting anyway).

The difference between cups of flour is dramatic - and although with years of experience, you might get a very similar product, why not start weighing, and get that part out of the way?

Second, you can start really getting into the quality of flour and eggs. Not all type '00' flour in the same. And are you using the absolutely best quality eggs you can get your hands on? I just found a shop around the corner that imports eggs from Emiglia-Romagna - the yolks are an amazing gold - I'm going to start experimenting with them. You can do the same.

Third - start playing with proportions of flour. i.e. a 75/25 split of '00' to semolina. Then a 75/25 split, plus substituting 3 egg yolks for 1 egg. It can get pretty zen.

Fourth - play with thicknesses, and cooking times. These make a huge difference. You know the way Batali finishes his pasta off in the sauce or 30 seconds? Try that. Play with cooking the pasta for 30 seconds less than you would usually, and letting it absorb something else. Or adding pasta water to your melted butter and making an emulsion - I could go on...

Fifth - if you want to get really funky, I came across a recipe that incorporates cooked and pureed sausage meat and chicken livers into the past dough!

Let me know how it goes!

Thanks Moby, for all that. Wow, lots to think about and getting into dangerous geek-obsessive territory, kinda like those espresso folk who roast their own beans. I can go there, but I'm afraid of what it leads to. :laugh:

Yes, sigh, I better get a proper scale and not the cheesy little thing I bought at the thrift store either. You're right. Now what exactly makes the dough tender - the egg or the flour?

I have experimented with different flours insofar as I tried all-purpose, then partial all-purpose and semolina (50-50) and then all durum. I couldn't really tell much difference in taste but the feel of the semolina dough was like taking the hand of a very old person! Not sure about the difference between durum and '00' flour or if they're the same.

As far as eggs, no I just used what I had. I should try organic or even farmer eggs.

I understand that if I want the base product, ie pasta, to taste exceptional, I better use exceptional ingredients. And I am an Italian food freak. :wub:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   
Thanks Moby, for all that. Wow, lots to think about and getting into dangerous geek-obsessive territory, kinda like those espresso folk who roast their own beans. I can go there, but I'm afraid of what it leads to. :laugh:

Nirvana, of course...

And a cool hair cut.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
slbunge   

My first attempt at stuffed pasta was met with mixed results. I didn't have a camera with a charged battery available so I don't have photographic evidence.

The course was a great help. My biggest issue was that as I got to 7 on my Atlas machine, the sheets began to sort of tear. As if the layers of dough were shearing. I suspect this means I should have kneaded the dough longer to develop the gluten. Any other reasons I would have this trouble.

I ended up stopping at 6 after having troubles with the thinnest setting. Other than the rather, er, rustic look of the little pillows things tasted really great and it was a great learning experience.

Oh, the meal was butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter and bittersweet chocolate (recipe adapted from here) paired with rapini sauteed in EVOO and a bit of garlic. The sharpness of the rapini was just the ticket to balance the sweetness of the pasta filling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

SlBunge -

Wow - I love the idea of grating chocolate over the finished thing. That's a real find.

My Atlas does the same thing - what happens is that in the early stages, when the dough is damper, tiny bits of it and also particles of semolina collect on the underside of the rollers - I clean it out with my fingers as the sheet gets thinner, so by the time you get to level 8, it won't tear the sheet. Try reaching underneath, and see if you can feel small amounts of build up which is causing the sheet to tear.

Or try this the next time (or you can see now). Let me know if it helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
slbunge   

One more thing. What method do you use for feeding the dough in and receiving the results. I often felt I needed a third hand or an assistant.

The method I used was the hold the dough being fed with my left hand above the rollers, my right hand was turning the handle. The outfeed sheets would sort of clump below the machine until I stopped and straightened it out. Draping the dough over the top of the machine seemed like it should work but it seemed to stretch the dough as the rollers competed with the weight of the dough dangling over the back side and the friction of the dough against the stainless.

My method worked but it was clunky.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MobyP   

Good point. This is worth going over. (BTW - I just made some more tortelloni tonight, and the sheet tore once or twice, so you reminded me to clear out the rollers...)

As the pasta gets longer, first of all, where do you put it? I drape it along the length of my left forearm, sometimes folding it over by the elbow (it won't stick if it's well floured). The end you feed into the rollers with your left hand.

However, if you just do this, the pasta will clump underneath the rollers, and sometimes it sticks together if it's slightly damp and becomes difficult to pull out. So the thing to do is: feed in the first few inches, and then pull the pasta out from under the rollers. This way you have a handle when it starts to gather. Then roll a few more inches (all the while keeping the excess pasta balanced on your left forearm), pull the lower sheet through like before, and continue until used up.

As you also noted, you want to avoid letting the rollers 'drag' the pasta in, because that will stretch the dough against the metal. At the times when I'm pulling out the pasta from underneath (imagine your left hand under the rollers), I raise my left thumb, which suspends the pasta feeding into the rollers, stopping it dragging against the metal. Is that clear?

You never have to worry about the excess feeding into the rollers, because that's laying on your left arm, and feeding itself in.

Let me know. Maybe it's time to pull the camera out again, and give a play by play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×