Monday, September 15, 2008

basta pasta

Surprise! We had pasta for tea last night. Ok, so that really isn't an epic revelation seeing how we eat heaps of pasta. Something's amiss if we don't have pasta at least 2-3 times per week. Comfort food, I guess (like when someone's packing a sad, say when Reggina loses to Chievo).

So first, the pasta: fileja. Filei are a traditional Calabrese pasta 'fatta in casa' (usually home-made).  They are similar to pici (Toscano) and various other regional styles of egg-less pasta (not unlike maccheroni inferrati) that are rolled by hand using a thin metal rod or skewer . This was a second solo attempt at making the fileja (the first wasn't a huge success). For me, it's more difficult than ravioli or rolling and cutting other egg pastas and I find the trick is all in the texture of the dough. There is a definite knack to this puppy.

To prepare the pasta: mound the flour on your work surface and add enough water to form a dough. Per pound of (I prefer a fine semolina) flour, I add about 250mL of water. This amount can vary depending on the humidty in your kitchen and the moisture level in your choice of flour. Knead until smooth and allow to rest for 30 minutes covered with a tea towel. After this rest, knead again for a few minutes. Take a small knob of dough, only slightly bigger than a marble, and make a short rope, about 2-3 inches long and barely a 1/2-inch in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough. Gently (using only light pressure from your fingertips) roll each piece around a skewer or knitting needle to form the fileja (a loose unsealed tube or 'casarecci' shape) and stretching it a little as you go. Slide (minimal gentle coaxing might be required) the pasta from the skewer and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

And the sauce. With it's long twist, this pasta is a perfect hiding spot for any favoutite sauce.  But a long simmered sugo, made even more rich by the addition of lamb ribs (stewing or neck bones work well too), is the business. Using the 'lesser' cuts of lamb adds an extra degree of flavour (that only these bits can) and an unctuous quality to the sauce. I find it results in a sauce that coats the pasta even more luxuriously.

Cook pasta in well-salted water until desired doneness and mix with a light coating of sauce. Pass grated Parmigiano or Pecorino (or an aged Crotonese if you have it) at the table. Divine with merlot or a merlot cab blend.
And finally: the vino. We chose the above 3 Hawkes' Bay beauties to try with dinner. I preferred the 04 Trinity with it's bit of age to accompany the pasta (and the ribs) but the more youthful and fruitier Church Road and Mills Reef worked best with the cheese (more lovely aged Pecorino) and were the favourites among everyone else. Another new world wonder to try, especially with lamb, is Pascual Toso Merlot from Argentina.
Saluté!
Photo credit: Vallebona Sardegnian Specialties

2 comments:

Barbara said...

Wow I'm impressed Mary. They look great.

Mary said...

Thank you Barbara, they did taste good and I was much happier with the texture over the first attempt. Tagliatelle is next!