If you're wondering what to make for dinner tonight, there's never been a better time to try your hand at homemade pasta. Not only is it super simple (no pasta machine required!) but the results are beautiful and delicious.
8.8 oz (250g) semolina flour, plus more for dusting
3.5 oz (100g) hot water
Here chef and restauranteur Curtis Stone shows two OWN staffers how to make handmade orecchiette in a spicy, flavorful tomato sauce. See the recipe below:
Handmade Orecchiette, Pickled Fresno, and Pancetta
The same dough can be used to make strozzapretti and cavatelli. These pasta types—with their nooks and crannies as well as firm structure—are perfect for absorbing vegetable-based pasta sauces (like the one below).
4 oz pancetta, cut into lardons
4 Pickled Fresno Chiles (recipe follows), julienned
2 tbs Calabrian hot chile paste
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
16 canned San Marzano tomatoes, drained (about 2 lb), passed through food mill
4 fresh basil leaf
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
To prepare orecchiette pasta:
In large bowl, stir flour and hot water until dough forms. Transfer dough to work surface and knead for about 20 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.
Lightly dust work surface with flour. Using a bench scraper or chef’s knife, cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a short cylinder.
Place fingers of both hands on a dough cylinder and roll it back and forth, gradually shifting your hands to ends, to form a log about 1/2 inch in diameter. Repeat with remaining cylinders. Cut each log into 1/2-inch pieces that resemble tiny pillows.
Extend your index finger along blade of a serrated table knife. With tip of knife, flatten a piece of dough and drag it slightly toward you over work surface to form a disk (disk will roll up slightly). Gently push disk over tip of your thumb to form a small cup. Repeat to shape remaining pieces.
As you work, arrange orecchiette in a single layer on a lightly floured rimmed baking sheet. Freeze orecchiette (this will allow them to hold their shape better once cooked).
To make tomato sauce and serve:
Heat a large heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until some fat has rendered out and pancetta is crisp and golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to a plate and set aside.
Add Fresno chiles, chile paste and garlic and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until garlic and chiles soften but do not caramelize. Add San Marzano tomato pulp. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until mixture has thickened slightly. Stir in pancetta and basil. Season to taste with salt.
Meanwhile, cook orecchiette in large pot of boiling salted water for about 4 minutes, or until al dente.
Using a slotted skimmer, remove pasta from water and add it to warm sauce in sauté pan, adding enough pasta water to adjust sauce consistency, and toss to emulsify sauce and coat pasta. Season to taste with salt.
Transfer pasta to bowls. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano, and black pepper and serve.
Pickled Fresno Chiles
Makes about 3 cups
2 cups Champagne vinegar
2 tbs honey
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp juniper berries
3 whole cloves
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 lb red Fresno chiles, rinsed
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring vinegar, honey, salt, peppercorns, juniper berries, cloves, and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chiles and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl to cool to room temperature.
Transfer chiles and liquid to tall containers and refrigerate.