From Beard on Pasta by James Beard
I'm posting this recipe today mostly for myself. As I've said before, the reason I started this blog was so I can get my hands on my recipes, and this is one that's not in my head, and I have actually wished I had it on occasion, so it's time to put it here.
It is basically from Beard on Pasta by James Beard, but the first time I made it was with Beverly Dana when she invited me to her house in Atlanta to make pasta. I make it in a Cuisinart (which to me is synonymous with food processor) and roll it out on rollers that I attach to my KitchenAid mixer, which makes it really easy.
Michael Ruhlman did a post on pasta that was very interesting. You might want to check it out.
Fresh pasta is very different from dry pasta, and it isn't automatically better for every recipe. A rule of thumb is that dried pasta works well with heavy sauces, and fresh works well with light sauces. It's like the wand choosing the wizard rather than the wizard choosing the wand. The sauce dictates the pasta. Having said that, I must confess that with the exception of filled (like ravioli and tortellini) pasta and lasagna, I generally am happy with excellent quality Italian dried pasta. I find it really does make a difference to use artisanal pasta from Italy, which has been made using bronze cutting die, and usually use Pasta Setaro or Rustichella D'Abruzzo pasta. I recently tried Cav. Guiseppe Cocco penne rigate, for Pasta alla Carbonara, and it was delicious (the pasta and the recipe).
These instructions are specifically for using a food processor. James Beard has instructions for making it by hand and making it using an electric mixer, so if you want to, check out the book to see all the different methods.
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
Pinch of salt
2 whole large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon oil (this is if using a food processor)
Instructions for Using a Food Processor
Add the flour and salt to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process to blend, then add the eggs and oil through the feed tube. Continue to process until the dough begins to form a ball. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour. If it's too dry, add a tiny, tiny amount of water. Process until it forms a ball, but don't keep processing once that happens.
Turn the dough from the food processor out onto a floured board. Dust your hands with flour, and knead by hand for about 5 minutes. Make a ball and then slightly flatten it. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes - an hour (or a few hours) is infinitely better (you can actually refrigerate it overnight, just let it get to room temperature again) - before continuing with the recipe to the rolling step.
I roll it, as I said, in the pasta attachment that fits on my KitchenAid. I do not - NOT, NOT, NOT (do you get it?) - mean an extrusion attachment, which pushes the dough through holes. I mean rolling cylinders that look like a wringer.
I cut the dough into four pieces and roll it through the cylinders starting from the widest setting to the most narrow setting that comports with how thin I want the finished pasta. I start at the widest setting and roll it through once or twice. Then I lightly dust it with flour using a feather brush, which Beverly showed me, and keep going down a setting each time, putting it through the narrower and narrower settings one time for each setting until it's as thin as I want it. I keep the sheets of pasta under kitchen towels as I go along. When all the pasta has been rolled through, it's ready to use. You cut it into whatever shape you want or use it whole for lasagna or ravioli. I think you can take it from here, just note that fresh pasta cooks almost instantly so be careful when you cook it.
A Cook's Notes on Mixers
I think you need to have a KitchenAid mixer because at some point you will come across a recipe that says something like "beat on high speed for ten minutes." I've had mine for a long time. It's not the one with arms that lift the bowl. I also inherited my mother's, which is the same model. Both would be the Classic 4-1/2 quart model available now. I can't justify getting a new bigger one because mine are fine for my purposes. But if you don't have one yet and are planning to get one, do some research to see what will suit your needs.
I also have a KitchenAid hand-held mixer that I got two sets of beaters for. I keep one set of beaters in the freezer in a small metal bowl for beating heavy cream for dessert. I usually beat it lightly so it's soft and never grainy and sometimes don't even add sugar. When I do add sugar, it's not much. And I often flavor it with a liqueur that enhances whatever I'm serving it with. For instance, I use Mathilde Orange Liqueur X.O. with the orange sponge cake I like to make. The possibilities are endless - and the results are delicious.