Tools of the Trade: Standing Mixer with Pasta Attachment

One of the main work horses of our kitchen is our cobalt blue Kitchen Aid standing mixer. It's probably the most expensive tool we have, but it's also the most versatile. Silka uses it for baking (kneading, mixing, whipping) all of the time, while Jake uses it to make sauces and homemade sausage. We'll eventually write love letters to all of it's many uses but, for now we wanted to focus on our current favorite: making fresh pasta!

Let's admit it, more often than not we're too lazy to make our own pasta. And since Eataly is a few blocks away - a.k.a. the pasta mecca of the world, save for... well, Italy - we usually just pick some up. But actually, fresh pasta is as easy to make as it is rewarding. Plus, no shopping! As long as you have some flour and eggs, you can make pasta. And with a standing mixer, all you'll need is a little patience and a few attachments. 

We hadn't made fresh pasta since our discovery, and subsequent addiction to, Cayuga Pure Organics All Purpose Flour, so we were curious to see how it would work as a substitute for All Purpose. The color would definitely be nuttier (which is fine by us) but we were a little worried about the texture and flavor. In the end, while it did take a little more flour than usual, this was the best pasta dough we've ever made! It had the most amazing elastic snap and the flavor of the pasta was sweeter and more hearty without tasting like whole wheat pasta. 

Generally, if we're taking the time to make our own pasta we make a super simple sauce. It's the best way to show off the pasta and, come on, we just spent all that time making pasta! This time we made one of our all-time favorite simple sauces: cacio e pepe, or cheese and pepper (plus butter, olive oil and pasta water). While it's traditional to use Parmesan or Pecorino, we bought some Consider Bardwell’s Equinox which we often use as an aged Italian cheese substitute. It an almost season-less dish, but it was perfect for this early fall evening.

Fresh Pasta
Adapted from Marcella Hazan

+ 4 eggs
+ 2 cups All Purpose flour (plus more if needed)

1. Mound the flour in the mixer bowl and scoop out a deep well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well. 
2. With the paddle attachment, beat lightly until the eggs are fully incorporated into the flour. Turn the beater up a little for for another minute, and test the texture. If it feels sticky, add flour. When you think the dough is ready (i.e. does not need any more flour) wash your hands, drying them completely, and plunge your thumb into the dough. If it comes out clean with no sticky matter on it, no more flour is needed. If your dough still doesn’t seem quite right, it probably will after you knead it. 3. Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Knead for at least 10 minutes. Following Mario Batali’s advice we like the leave it on kneading for about 30 minutes. The dough should be “as smooth as baby skin.” Let the kneaded pasta sit for 20 minutes. 
4. Attach the rolling attachment to the front of the stand mixer. Cut the dough into 6 equal parts. Begin by putting one part of dough through the widest setting on the roller. Fold it into thirds like an envelope and feed the narrow end through the widest setting again. Repeat 2 or 3 times, then lay the strip of dough on a dish towel. Repeat with the remaining 5 parts. 
5. Once all the dough has been through the widest setting, decrease the roller width a notch and put them all through again. Continue to decrease the rollers’ thickness, passing the dough through until it is to your desired thickness. We go to the arbitrarily-named setting “6,” which is the third-thinnest setting on our roller. As you roll out the sheets place them on a cutting board or baking sheet and sprinkle flour between the layers so they don't stick to each other. The gradual progression from thick to thin is, Hazan says, one of the things that makes homemade pasta so good. So resist the urge to speed things up by skipping some of the intermediate thicknesses.
6. When you have rolled out all of your dough, attach the desired cutting attachment. As you run the dough through the attachment, hang it over a noddle dryer, the back of a chair or the machine itself.
7. Cook the pasta immediately in lots of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until it is al dente. Drain and serve as soon as possible. 

Note: Each machine is different so read your machine's manual to better understand how your attachments work.

Cacio e Pepe
Adapted from Mario Batali and Smitten Kitchen

+ 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
+ 1 pound fresh or dry pasta, like spaghetti or linguine
+ 2 tablespoons butter
+ 4 ounces Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated plus more for serving
+ 2-3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
+ 3/4 cup of reserved pasta water 
+ salt

1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
2. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is almost smoking. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water according until al dente. 
3. Drain pasta after reserving the cooking liquid, and add to the saute pan with the oil. Add the butter, cheese and pepper and toss over high heat for 1 minute. Grate plenty of cheese and black pepper over, and add salt if necessary.

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