The One Where We Make Orecchiette!

We eat a lot of pasta. Almost everyday. There are a few reasons for this: pasta is cheap, the sauce can be as simple or elaborate as we like and it takes hardly any time, preparation or brain power to make.

Just like most people, we use dry pasta in our dishes. We got to thinking one day: can we make pasta from scratch? With our hands? But we don’t have a fancy pants mixer (we want one), let alone the pasta attachment needed to make the pasta. We made sad faces.

Then while we were reading Rocco’s Italian American we discovered that you don’t need a fancy pants anything to make pasta. Well, that isn’t entirely true. You need a special type of flour called semolina flour because it has a high gluten content. This high gluten content is what makes some doughs, like pizza and bagels, chewy. In the case of making pasta, gluten is what helps keep it from falling apart when in comes into contact with the boiling water.

The egg in the well.

My well overflowed and led to this mess. Tip: Make a deep well!

I knead the dough.

Shiny, smooth pasta ball.

Cut the rope into 1/2 inch pieces.

Kendall keeps his fingers floured so the finger-hat doesn't stick.

Happy inside-out finger-hats, otherwise known as orecchiette. (I can't help but notice that they look like red blood cells!)

So that’s what happened. We put them in the refrigerator uncovered because later tonight we are making dinner with them! Here’s the recipe for the pasta:

adapted from Rocco’s Italian American

1 cup all-purpose flour (125 grams)
1/4 cup semolina flour (42 grams)
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1/4 cup hot tap water

Make the dough:
1. Combine flour and salt in a mound. Create a well in the center. Crack egg and pour water into the well.

2. Using your fingers, stir the wet ingredients into the dry, gradually incorporating all the flour. (Messy hands time!)

3. When the dough comes together, knead for several minutes until it’s smooth, not sticky (I still don’t know what this means. The dough always felt kinda sticky but I don’t do well with absolutes.)

Shape the dough:
4. Pull off small handfuls of dough and roll each rope about 1/4 inch thick. Cut them into half-inch pieces.

5. Push your pointer finger down into each piece of dough, rotating against the work surface to stretch and thin it out. You will have a little finger-hat! (See note on this step below.)

6. Touch your finger-hat to your thumb and turn it inside-out onto your thumb.

You now have orecchiette.

Mandy’s Notes:
– Regarding finger-hats: This process confused us. I can only imagine what a finger-hat is or what it really means to rotate my finger on the work surface. We did some video research and found this inspiring woman.

– We could not do it her way but we now strive to. Do it however you want!

Kendall’s Notes:
– The original recipe called for a mixture of all-purpose flour, semolina flour and “double zero” flour  but we couldn’t find any 00 so we increased the all-purpose flour. I’m gonna keep my eyes open for some 00 flour and see if it makes a difference on a future batch.

– I prefer weighing many dry ingredients (like flour) so we’ve included those measurements as well.

– After we made the pasta I was reading about orechiette on Wikipedia and noticed it says, “Like other kinds of home-made pasta, orecchiette are made with durum wheat, water and salt, but unlike others, eggs are not used in the preparation of orecchiette.” Interesting. I guess everybody does things their own way.

– posted by Mandy

12 responses to “The One Where We Make Orecchiette!

  1. Isn’t homemade pasta great? My mom had a fancy pasta machine that made all different shapes, but went back to a simple sheeter now. I just roll mine by hand like you!

  2. I can’t wait to experiment with other shapes and recipes once we get a pasta machine.

  3. Looks good.. but what kind of sause did you make

  4. Pingback: Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe & Sausage | The Green Chalkboard

  5. MMMmmmm, looks good. And easy enough that a kitchen dunce like me might actually be able to pull it off. I need everything spelled out for me, so post that sauce info asap, would you? I’m starving! 😉

  6. sono appena guardato il video di Mamma Carolina e ho capito quasi tutto ciò che diceva. Managgia che c’era la TV in fondo facendolo più difficile capirla…..
    I wrote that I just finished watching the video of Mamma Carolina and I understood almost everything she was saying, too bad there was the tv in the background making it more difficult to understand her…
    also she said she uses boiling water for the Orecchiette and tepid water for the cavatelli and gives them both a distictive consistency. I watch her video now.thanks for a good reference! Joe

  7. I watched it again and I got it reversed= she uses boiling water for the cavatelli….

  8. Are you still looking for 00 flour. I am sure I can find it here in NYC at Zabars, or Fairway or Dean and Deluca or the Bake Center.

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