Posted by johngl
Pasta is really pretty cheap. Even premium, so-called hand made dried pastas go for around $3-5 per pound at the local grocer. So why in the world would anyone spend $179 for a pasta extruder?
Personally, I think it’s because I had a real fondness for the Play-Doh Fun Factory that belonged to a neighbor girl named Robin back in ‘65. Then again, I may have had the fondness for Robin and she just happened to have the Fun Factory. She also had an Easy-Bake Oven. Hmmm. That could explain a lot. Does anyone else remember the horrible taste of stuff baked in that thing? It was probably the lead paint giving off fumes or something (that really could explain a lot!)
So, anyway, I’ll need to make about a pound of fresh pasta a week for a couple of years to get that money back, but it will be good for a few posts. Luckily, winter is coming and we have pasta a lot more frequently in winter.
Off to the left, you may notice that I mounted the thing on my most powerful KitchenAid Stand Mixer (I have two). I looked at this and decided I had done something incorrectly: there was no place to put the pasta dough. Hmmm.
I fiddled around and even looked at instructions (it’s okay, the most glorious spousal unit didn’t see me) to try and figure out how to remove the die set from the top; the instructions let me down. Finally, after several minutes of careful examination, I discovered that you have to press in (with a lot of pressure!) on the sides of clear cover to disengage from the body of the machine.
There, that looks a little better. At least it looks a little more functional.
Now, to decide which pasta shape to make. Should it be small or large macaroni? Bucatini or spaghetti? Fusilli or rigatoni? It has a die set for each of these. Pretty cool, eh? I can even make some hollow pastas with this thing. The Fun Factory couldn’t even do that.
Choosing fusilli because of its twisted nature (I’m nothing if not consistent), I grabbed the correct die, unscrewed the cap, took the spaghetti die out, then put the fusilli die in. Quick and easy.
Now, about the pasta dough. There were several recipes for dough in the instruction booklet that I discovered whilst looking for how to remove the die set. The instructions suggest starting with a simple dough your first time out. Nice of them to warn me.
Following the instructions to the letter, I grabbed three eggs and 2-3/4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour. The instructions said if my eggs didn’t equal 3/4 cup, I needed to add water.
I added water.
I used the paddle attachment to mix the yolk-water mixture with the sifted flour until it just started to come together. I swapped out the paddle for the dough hook and watched the KitchenAid knead the dough for two minutes at level two (this was all in the instructions). I then kneaded by hand for another couple of minutes. The instructions said 30 seconds, but it was barely holding together.
The instructions said to break the dough into “walnut sized pieces.” Would that be English or Black?
So, one by one I pushed these dough chunks into the mixer with the really cheesy (sorry KitchenAid, but that thing is just bad) plastic pusher thingy.
And guess what? It actually worked! The machine extruded the pasta dough but I used the little wire cutter thingy rather imprecisely initially. Between stuffing dough balls into the extruder, pushing it down with the crappy pusher thing, and moving the cutting wire back and forth, I started having trouble with my timing. Some fusilli are long, others are short. It definitely looks homemade.
I dusted the fusilli with flour so they wouldn’t stick together and laid them out on a clean towel.
Setting a pot of water to a boil for the pasta, we opted for having some more of that left over pork loin roast with a creamy carbonara sauce. I was curious how well the homemade pasta would hold the sauce, since that is the greatest benefit of making pasta at home.
Into the salted water went the pasta:
Fresh pasta cooks in just a few minutes. Watch it, or you might overcook it.
Mixing the pasta in with the sauce, things were looking pretty good. It was holding nicely!
The pasta actually held onto a lot of sauce. It had a good chew to it and wasn’t at all mushy. It tasted like a good quality fresh pasta.
So, given the expense and the effort, I bet you are wondering just how often I will use this new kitchen toy. While I probably won’t do the weekly thing for two years straight, I certainly hope to get some value out of this sucker. It’s easier to use than the pasta roller, so that is a plus, too.
I think I see more fresh pasta in my future.