Nobody can compete on Masterchef without being able to cook a perfectly oozing egg yolk raviolo, at least not by the time you get to the end of the heats. If you can’t, then why bother applying?
Well, I can’t even make my own pasta yet – but fortunately I own a copy of Leith’s. Making pasta is pretty easy, as it turns out, although recipes vary slightly according to how rich you want it to be. Leith’s says you need the following per serving:
100g 00 pasta flour
1 medium egg, beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
You sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the middle, breaking your eggs into the well and then “slowly drawing the flour into the egg with the fingertips of one hand”. I cracked two eggs into the well and then created an egg volcano that ran off the work surface onto the floor. Good start.
Eventually, I improvised a dam to keep the eggs on the surface and then after about five minutes of kneading, it did indeed turn into a “smooth and silky” dough. After that you’re supposed to wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. I used foil instead. Don’t use foil, or this happens:
Anyway, after separating it from the foil and picking bits of silver out, I started to roll it out. You’re supposed to roll it as thinly as possible or pass it through a pasta machine, and I didn’t roll it out anywhere near thinly enough. You want it thinner than you’d expect, and it’s going to spring back on you, so be prepared; a pasta machine will help a lot here, or if not a weighty rolling pin (I had neither). If it looks like this, it’s too thick:
Cut your pasta up into whatever shape you want – some sort of thick tagliatelli thing seemed easiest for me, although in time I’m going to attempt a filled tortellini – and then leave it to dry on the back of a chair, if you don’t own a dog that will eat it, or on your drying rack in your kitchen if you do. It’s ready to cook “when the surface feels leathery”. Thanks, Leith’s. Use your common sense on what that means:
If you’re going to leave it a while before you cook it, dust the pasta with a little flour and store in a plastic bag – but not too much or else it will go slimy when you cook it. If you’re freezing it, then blanch it for a minute and then store in a plastic bag with as little air as you can.
It should cook in between 1-4 minutes. There’s no salt in the dough, so you must put some in the water or else it will be grim. I put too much flour on my pasta, so it did indeed become slimy, but only slightly, and then we served it with a fiery tomato and chilli sauce with some chorizo, which fortunately was potent enough to overcome the rather thick pasta. It looked like this, and as I say, if it looked this thick, you probably want it to be a little bit thinner!
Still, not bad for a first effort, right?