Many months ago I saw FXcuisine’s account of making macaroni from scratch and his tale of homemade casarecce, and I immediately fell in love with
Maybe at this point I should take a moment to explain what extruded pasta is and how it’s different from other pasta. Extruded pasta is made by forcing a dry semolina-and-water dough through a die. Spaghetti, rotini, fusilli, penne, bucatini, macaroni, and rigatoni are all examples of extruded pasta. Fresh extruded pasta is rare, but most of the dried pastas sold at the grocery store are actually extruded. Rolled pasta, on the other hand, is made by rolling out a flour-and-egg dough, either with a rolling pin or with a pasta sheeter, into a thin sheet and then cutting the sheet into strips of the desired width. Examples of rolled pasta include lasagna, linguini, fettuccini, tagliatelle, and pappardelle. When pasta is made at home, it’s usually the rolled type of pasta. A myriad of other traditional pasta shapes like cavatelli, orecchiette, and trofie are made by shaping pieces of dough by hand. Special dies can be used to make extruded versions of many rolled and handmade pastas.
The alternatives to spending the entire year’s food budget on the pasta extruder of my dreams? Well, it just happens that Pastaworks, a fine Portland-area specialty market, has outstanding fresh extruded pastas which they make themselves. Unfortunately, several delightful Pastaworks pasta dinners only strengthened my desire for homemade extruded pasta. I resorted to making orecchiette from scratch, but the pasta rope was longer than my attention span. The home pasta extruders available in the U.S. have mixed reviews at best, so a relatively cheap, Italian-made hand-cranked model seemed like the way to go. It worked fine, but to be honest, a manual machine is a pain in the butt.
So over a year later, I was still pining for the Kenwood pasta extruder. I think KitchenAid must’ve heard my prayers because they just came out with a Stand Mixer Pasta Press Attachment that, while not as sexy, is every bit as functional. I happen to know that personally because I’m the proud new owner of one. Thanks for my early birthday present, Mom and Dad! I absolutely love it!
With the experience of using the hand-cranked machine under my belt, my first attempts at using my new extruder couldn’t have gone better. Should you be inspired to acquire a pasta extruder yourself and make your own homemade extruded pasta, there are a few things you ought to know…
First, the dough should be very dry—so dry that it won’t even come together into a single mass.
I made one batch with half semolina and half all-purpose flour and another batch with all semolina. Both times, I used 10 ounces of flour in total to about 4 to 4 ½ ounces of warm water. I will use even less water next time. A dry dough will be easy to feed into the extruder, and the freshly extruded pasta will be less likely to stick together. By the way, one 14-ounce batch of pasta will be enough for 2 very generous servings.
Second, feed the dough into the extruder a crumble or two at a time. Larger amounts of dough tend to bind up in the extruder as they reach the auger.
Once the pasta is extruded and cut, arrange it in a single layer on a pasta drying screen or rack.
If you don’t have one, use a baking tray that’s either lined with a clean kitchen towel or dusted lightly with flour. Let the pasta dry for a few hours.
Cook the homemade extruded pasta as you would any other pasta, in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Cooking time will vary depending on how wet the dough was and how long the pasta was dried.
Finally, disassemble the extruder, remove any large gobs of dough, and let the rest dry overnight before attempting to clean the parts. The dough will flick right off once it’s completely dry.
And now, may I present my first batch of homemade extruded rigatoni with tomato sauce with Italian sausage.
In case you’re wondering if it all was worthwhile—without a doubt, the object of my desires really lived up to my expectations. Making pasta with an electric extruder is surprisingly easy, and watching the dough squeeze its way out of the die is definitely my idea of fun. And the pasta itself is more toothsome and flavorful than anything you can buy. Most definitely worthwhile.
Next up: More Adventures in Extruded Pasta.