Ben's Pappardelle Noodles:
- 2 c. flour, *I use King Arthur all-purpose. You can use semolina but I generally reserve that for finer pasta like angel hair.
- 3 xl eggs OR 2 xl eggs plus 2 yolks The more yolks you use, the more tender and rich the dough will be.
At this point, I lose some patience. Switch off to the paddle mixer and mix the remaining flour and egg/flour slurry into a mixture. Do this until you hear the motor just begin straining. As soon as you hear the KA straining, immediately switch back to the hook mixture or you can burn out your KA. The dough should not appear the least bit sticky! It should be shiny and smooth. If you need to add flour, do so until your dough is smooth and shiny. If your dough is too dry (rarely happens) then you need to slowly add moisture back in by misting the dough with a water bottle. It is much harder to reincorporate moisture, than it is to incorporate a bit more flour.
This is a judgment call, but it is basically impossible to over-knead pasta dough, especially when you are working with all-purpose flour. Turn the pasta dough, which is probably in the form of several medium balls, out onto a floured board and finish neading into a tight ball by hand. Firmly press the dough away from you with the heal of your hand until it is smooth, resistant and springy. When the dough is depressed with a finger, the indentation should slowly spring back. If the depression doesn't spring back, you didn't knead it enough. Cover the dough and rest for 30 minutes. (Begin to make your meatballs during this 30-minute break.)
Roll the dough with a roller attachment. Roll the dough to the finest setting that your pasta machine has. Cut the noodles into very rustic, very wide strips, about 1-1/2" wide. Hang your noodles to dry and start a large pot of salted water to boil. Begin to heat your pasta water at the same time the recipe indicates to add chicken stock to the meatballs, so that your water will be at a rolling boil when you need it.
Rosemary & Garlic Lamb Meatballs
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1/2 Demi-Baguette worth of bread crumbs. (Pulse half of a demi-baguette until you have coarse to medium crumbs. With the motor running, slowly pour a scant 1/4 cup of milk into the crumbs.)
- 2 xl eggs
- 1/4-1/2 c. grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (the more the merrier!)
- 1/2 head of minced garlic
- 2 Tb. finely chopped fresh rosemary (more if you dare)
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- Salt and pepper, to taste
It is very important to not overcrowd the pan. You will not gain a good sear on the meatballs. Also, many cooks make the mistake of trying to turn the meatballs too soon. If you do this, they will stick. Many times, meat goes through a sticking "curve". It sticks for awhile, but when it has formed a proper crust, it will release. You need a large, heavy-duty, traditional French saute pan with deep straight sides and a tightly fitting lid. (A very large French or Dutch oven would also work.) If you don't have a large enough pan, brown in batches until all the meatballs are done and then return them all to the pan when you make the sauce. Make sure that the meatballs have a rich, deep brown crust on all sides before moving onto the sauce.
Shiitake Marscapone Sauce
- 1 qt. chicken stock or broth
- Several ounces of Shiitake mushrooms
- handful of chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 8 oz. Marscapone cheese
- Salt and peper, to taste
Finally, boil your noodles. I'm not explaining how to do this. Drain well and return to the hot pasta pan. Pour several GENEROUS glugs of olive oil over the noodles and toss. I also like to season the noodles with a little salt and pepper at this point. It really does enhance the noodles, unlike adding seasoning on top of the entire dish after its composed. Again, this is okay as long as you didn't over-salt the sauce and meatballs.
Finally, place a bed of the noodles in a pasta bowl and top with sauce, meatballs, a bit more cracked black pepper, and Pecorino or Parmesan cheese. Maybe a swirl of extra-virgin. This dish is super-rich umami deliciousness. But wait . . . if you really like to cook you need an extra kick, another element, some aggressively lemony pesto. This dish is so rich, it's really crying out for an acidic balance, and the bright green of the pesto makes it a feast for the eyes as well. And seriously, I'm way too tired at this point to list amounts. Use a food processor.
Ben's Lemony Pesto (nothing makes it uniquely mine except for the massive amount of lemon I add)
- Large bunch of fresh basil
- Pecorino or Parmesan
- Pine nuts (I'll let you in on a little secret. You don't need pine nuts. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, even peanuts, will work.)
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- Olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
Enjoy and feel free to e-mail with any questions.