This pasta is incredible; the dough was the driest I have ever made and I’m convinced that was the secret to its fantastic consistency. Hands down, this is the best pasta I have ever eaten! Give this recipe for tagliatelle with duck ragu a try, I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. Benedetta asked me prepare the pasta while she was teaching the class. We used my handy-dandy kitchen aid mixer with the pasta attachment for ease. Once the dough became a nice texture on the first level, Benedetta instructed me run it through the machine two times on level 3, two times on level 5 and once on level 6. I would make about three sheets of pasta and then put it through the tagialetelle cutter, so it would not dry out too much. After the noodles were cut we put them on a cookie sheet with a handful of semolina flour, tossing occasionally. Then add the recipe part noted below.
Tagliatelle al sugo di anatra : Tagliatelle with Duck Ragu
For the ragu
1 white onion (diced)
3 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon juniper berries
4 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
About 1 quart vegetable or chicken stock (homemade if possible)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
For the pasta
½ pound all purpose flour
½ pound semolina flour
7 yolks plus 3 whole eggs beaten
Preparing the Ragu
Cut the duck in large pieces. Chop the onion and sauté in oil and butter in a deep skillet until it begins to soften. Add the duck and gently brown it on all sides, turning occasionally. Raise the heat to high, add the white wine, and boil till it evaporates completely. Add the juniper berries, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cover with the stock. When the liquid begins to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes, until the meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Allow to cool, then remove the bones and skin from the meat. Shred the meat. Put back into sauce and set aside. Reheat over low heat just before serving.
Preparing the pasta
On a large, flat, smooth surface, put the flour in a circular shape and make a deep well in the center of the flour and pour in the eggs. Slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour with a fork or your fingers, or alternately, use and electric mixer at a low speed. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes until it is smooth, elastic and shiny. If you use your electric mixer, let it knead the dough for about 8 minutes. If at any time during the kneading the dough becomes too hard to knead, just add a little water. If it is wet enough to stick to your hands, add more flour.
Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes before you roll it out, either by hand or using a pasta-rolling machine. Make sure to use plenty of flour as you go along to prevent the pasta from sticking. Roll to the thickness of noodles which is a bit thicker than for ravioli and other filled pastas. The dough may then be cut into tagliatelle, ribbons about 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide, using a pasta machine. Alternatively, they may be cut with a knife by hand into maltagliati – short, wide strips with diagonally cut ends.
Drop the pasta into abundantly salted, boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until just al dente. Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dry pasta, usually in 3 minutes or less. Drain the pasta, top with the duck ragu, and serve immediately, accompanied by freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Shopping tip: Duck slaughtered and delivered the day of the cooking class by Gary Carpenter of Carpenter Squab Ranch. 5207 Casitas Pass Road, Ventura, CA 93001-8701 p: 805 649 1474
Photos by Blue Caleel