100 Day Project: Days 91-100
This is it! The End! There were points in this project where it really felt like it was just dragging on, but when I realized I only had 10 days left it just flew by. There were so many things I wanted to make that I hadn't gotten around to making to, so I wrote a plan and tried to tick a few boxes off my ULTIMATE PASTA list. Things like squid ink pasta, hand pulled noodles, meat filled ravioli and more fancy egg pasta came into play, and although they weren't all amazing, most of them were pretty damn good.
Stay tuned for part III of these last 100 Day Project posts - I'll share whats going on with me now, the food I missed the most during my project and some advice about doing a project of your own (I've got one in the works for fall 2018 you wont want to miss).
The Tastiest: Quail Egg Tagliatelle with braised chicken + brussel sprouts
I've mentioned the Flour + Water cook book a couple of times, everything in there is so thoughtfully paired, and has been so good; but typically they call for ingredients I don't have just laying around the apartment. For my last 10 days I wanted to make more things from them; this was one! Its arranged seasonally and because we had a farm share some of those more special ingredients were suddenly something I had on hand and had no idea what to do with (see the celery root tortelli down below). This was divine. We've made it multiple times since; the chicken falls apart, the brussels add texture and the extra yolks from the quail eggs made for a super rich + tender pasta. HIGHLY recommend.
The Most Exotic: Hand pulled noodles with spicy pork
Have you ever watched a video of noodles being pulled? Its AMAZING and mesmerizing and something I've wanted to try since I saw it. There is some conflicting info about how to go about doing it at home, its a technique chefs study for years. The quick version of how it works is like this: kneading the dough creates these gluten bonds in your dough, its what gives dough its texture, the chewy springy deliciousness. Normal pasta is kneaded, then rested, so those tight bonds have time to relax, and can be manipulated and rolled out. This dough needed to be worked until the gluten was destroyed; this ended up being a lot of work. We had a friend over who was a great sport about the whole thing, but basically this meant 2 hours of kneading a low gluten flour (pastry flour) until the dough could stretch without breaking. Once it was stretchable, you would pull it into a long thick noodle, fold it over on itself, pull again and fold, pull again and fold, so your noodles get thinner and double every time. It sounds confusing, watch this video it'll make so much more sense. Would I make again - sure, but not on a weeknight! This is definitely something that takes time, patience and practice.
The Most Disappointing: Celery root tortelli with balsamic + brown butter
Celery root is an intimidating ingredient. We got it in our farm share and when we did I was both excited and terrified because even though its scary looking I knew I had a recipe for it so I wouldn't have to stress about what to make with it. It was a very pretty dish, the shape, the sauce, all of it; but unfortunately the celery root tasted a lot like celery (big surprise, I know) which I didn't particularly care for. It is no fault of the wonderful Flour + Water cookbook the recipe came from, it must be my more pedestrian palate (apparently celery root is a delicacy). I would definitely give it another go; but I would want to try it at a restaurant first so I would know if I prepared it wrong or if its just something I don't like.
The Prettiest: Paisley floret cacio e pepe
You might have missed this little bit of info about me, my current full time job is being a production potter. What that means is I spend my day making pottery for two artists in Boston, it's what I went to school for and I love it for many reasons, the biggest being I love working with my hands. That being said, pasta dough + clay have a lot in common. These shapes came from me just playing around with long pieces of hand cut tagliatelle. I wanted to make something that reminded me of the extruded wagon wheel shapes I loved growing up, and they kind of worked!
The one you could make tonight: Passatelli in brodo
This was a warm and simple dish. There was nothing pretentious about it. The dough is unique; breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs and a little nutmeg. There is a special tool you can use to make it, but an wide holed extruder type device would work (i.e. potato masher, potato ricer, meat grinder). I do not have a large holed potato ricer, I used mine anyway, it may have broken a little, but ultimately it worked out. I would definitely aim for something with larger holes and something not plastic. These guys cook in chicken broth for about 60 seconds, then your soup is done, good to go. It was really delicious, real comfort food. and I imagine it would be the perfect thing for this time of year when everyone seems to be sick. (PS I'm fully aware that it looks like the food you feed animals at petting zoos, try to get past it if you can)
Here is the recipe:
Passatelli in Brodo
100g bread crumbs (panko will not work here, fine ones are best)
100g Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
Freshly grated nutmeg, if desired (be careful not to overdo it here)
2 quarts chicken stock, salted to taste
Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, eggs and nutmeg to create a dough. If it's too hard, add some liquid to it to soften it (some stock or water) If it's too soft, add some breadcrumbs. It needs to be the right consistency to be able to push through a potato ricer.
Push the dough through the potato ricer, potato masher or colander and as they come out from the other side, cut them to a length of about 1- 1 1/2 inches (mine ended up being a bit smaller)
Heat the chicken stock to a simmer. Drop the passatelli into the simmering stock and cook until they float, about two minutes. Ladle into bowls and serve with some extra Parmesan cheese. Turn off heat, you don't want them to overcook.
I apologize for the lack of cup measurements, I'll update it the next time I make it.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from these 10 days, to see photos of all 10 finished dishes check out this link to my #100daysofpastafresca on instagram!