There really isn’t anything like fresh made pasta. It’s one of those foods that I don’t consider myself an expert in yet, but I love process of learning and eating it. Also, once you learn how to make good pasta dough, the sky becomes the limit as far as what you can use it for. Ravioli, lasagna, tortellini, tagliatelle and even pierogis and Asian style noodles become less of a mystery, and what better to do with fresh pasta, but treat it well with a great sauce to match?
Bolognese is more of a thick stew than a sauce, but since we’re topping pasta, lets go with sauce. It’s fairly unique, having no garlic, no herbs and can even go without tomatoes. A variety of meats can be used, traditionally even using chicken livers… ummm no thanks. I chose lamb for it’s gamey flavor and pork for it’s tender fattiness. The two combined make a unique Bolognese that will be worthy of your fresh pasta.
1lb Ground Pork
1lb Ground Lamb
1 Large Onion diced
1 Carrot Shredded
2 Stalks Celery diced
4oz Pancetta diced
1-1/2 Cups White Wine
2 Tbs Tomato Paste
14oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Cup Chicken Stock
3/4 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
250 grams (1-1/2 Cups + 2 Tbs) AP Flour
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Generous Pinch of Salt
The Bolognese needs about 3 to 3-1/2 hours of total cooking time, so it’s best to start it early and then begin the pasta about an hour before the sauce is done. Timing and preparedness is key here.
Heat a large heavy pot, cast iron is best, over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the pancetta and fry for about 2 minutes. Then add the onions, celery and carrot, which is called a soffritto in Italy and mirepoix in France. Both refer to the mix of onions, celery and carrots, though a soffritto in Spain or Puerto Rico would be a bit different. Cook this mix for about 10 minutes.
Flatten the ground meats and season well with salt and pepper. Flattening will help control the seasoning better. Push the soffritto to one side and add the meats to the pot. Let them sear for a few minutes before trying to break them up. Searing the meat will help get a deeper flavor and better color. Break up the meat and continue until cooked through. There will be a lot of excess fat at this point. Tilt the pot and use a ladle or metal spoon to remove most of it, some fat is fine though.
Add the white wine and stir to deglaze the bottom. Cook until it is absorbed. Add the tomato paste and stir it into the meat for a few minutes while it cooks and gains some color. Add the milk, cream, stock and tomatoes and season with salt. Mix it together, turn the heat to medium low and let this cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until it is thickened to the consistency you want.
About 1 hour before the sauce is done, begin the pasta. If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can use a rolling pin, however it is much more difficult to get the dough thin enough and even enough not to have too much waste. After rolled, pappardelle is hand cut anyway.
Combine the salt and flour and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and oil and use a fork to whisk them together in the middle, slowly incorporating flour from the sides. Continue this until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough will be shaggy and have dry spots still.
Dump the dough onto a counter and begin kneading the dough together adding small amounts of flour if it’s sticking. It will stick at first, but as you develop the gluten it will become smoother and easier to work with, so don’t add too much flour in the beginning. The dough is ready, when it’s soft, smooth and springs back slightly when pressed. It should take about 8 minutes of kneading. When done wrap in plastic and let rest for 3o minutes to relax the gluten.
When ready to roll the dough, cut the dough into fourths and keep the pieces not being used yet, wrapped in plastic to avoid a skin. Press the dough into a rough rectangle and lightly flour it on both sides. Flour is your friend when rolling pasta. Roll it though the machine on the first (most open) setting twice. Fold the dough in thirds so that it is slightly smaller than the width of the roller on the machine. Starting with the open end, roll the pasta back through the first setting twice and then continue to decrease the thickness each time you roll it though. Flour the sheet often to avoid it from sticking to itself and help it smoothly go through the rollers. I rolled the sheet down to 1 setting short of the thinnest. If it becomes too long to work with, cut it in half and continue rolling.
To cut the pasta, cut the sheet into your desired noodle length. Flour both sides and fold it in thirds, by folding each end into the middle. Then fold it in half and use a sharp knife to cut wide ribbons. Unroll the pasta and flour it again while you finish the rest of the dough.
Fresh pasta cooks in about a minute so be ready to plate everything as soon as it’s done and don’t crowd the pot. Cook in batches, using tongs or a Chinese vegetable strainer to pull the pasta without dumping the water. Plate immediately and drizzle with olive oil.
Top with the Bolognese, fresh grated parmesan and parsley.
Bolognese freezes very well if you end up with a lot.