My favorite ingredient to make and eat is fresh homemade egg fettuccine. I adore this dish; there is simply no comparison in flavor and texture to the store-bought variety. I buy quality store-bought pastas, but as often as possible, we make these on a lazy Sunday afternoon and enjoy them at our early evening meal.
You will need a pasta machine to start. I own an old hand-crank (Al Dente by Villaware) that I have used for many years now. I prefer having control of the rolling thickness (very important) and my machine has the added benefit of allowing us to use hands and muscle power during the process which is gratifying to us.
The basic recipe below created by Chef Mario Batali in his cookbook entitled “Molto Italiano”, is my favorite. This recipe simplifies the balance of eggs to flour versus how Mammina taught me to make pasta, which is simply by “feel” of the dough.
pasta con l’uovo fatta in casa
5 large eggs (organic or farm-fresh is best)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
additional flour for dusting
Place the measured flour on a large wooden board (or very large bowl, if you prefer). Create a well in the mound of flour and crack the eggs into the center. Gently beat the eggs with a fork to blend; then use the fork to start stirring and adding flour from the center of the well out and mix well.
You will need to continue pushing the outer well wall of flour up against the center to keep it contained, this can get a bit messy but soon the dough will come together.
When about half the flour is mixed in, start kneading the dough with the palms of your hands and continue to incorporate the remaining flour. Once the dough is together and holding its shape, set aside and scrape up the bits of dough and extra flour off your board. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until elastic and a bit sticky. Form into a ball and place in a bowl and cover with plastic; allow to rest for 30 minutes (at room temperature.)
Slice a small section of dough, flatten with your hands a bit and set your machine to the first level of medium thickness and roll dough evenly into a sheet. Set your machine to the next level to create a thinner sheet, be careful to feed the sheet slowly so it rolls cleanly at this thinner stage (check your machine settings to see how the levels work before you begin, mine has numbered levels on a round dial).
I start rolling at level 6 or 7 to start, the second roll is level 4 and, if this is still not thin enough, I may go to level 3 as a last roll for optimal thinness. Test with a small piece of dough and begin once you have determined the level order for your machine.
Lay the rolled sheets of dough on a clean covered table and allow to dry for a minute or two before rolling into the fettuccine shape. Dust them lightly with flour so they do not stick together.
When all the sheets are rolled and have dried a bit, add the fettuccine attachment and roll the sheets and cut into long strands, lay on the table and dust with flour. Set a large pot of water to boil and add salt generously.
When this comes to a boil, add the fresh pasta noodles a handful at a time; carefully watch the pot as the water boils, you may have to lower the heat a bit as the eggs create a foam and can spill over at this point! Be sure the water stays at a good rolling boil to cook the fettuccine well.
Stir often as these will cook faster than store-bought pasta. Taste after 4 to 5 minutes to see if they are “al dente” texture or cook to your personal taste. Be sure NOT to overcook as they will become soft and inedible. The term “al dente” means literally ” to the tooth” a doneness with a bit of density to it and how most Italians are taught to cook pasta.
Drain the fettuccine well and serve immediately with your favorite marinara sauce; I always add fresh torn basil leaves and place grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the table for guests to add to their personal taste.
Note: Photography provided by Carina Favale & Annette L. Venditti