Saturday, June 5, 2010


My poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. So instead of dining with dear Aunt Augusta, I shall be able to enjoy making bigoli. Described by Oretta Zanini De Vita as "[a] feather in the cap of the Veneto's homemade pastas," bigoli is a long, thick string pasta. Although often made with whole-wheat flour, I offer an alternative dough that worked extremely well in my torchio da bigoli, which is a beautiful, heavy-duty pasta press.

Here is how you can go about making bigoli. First, prepare a very hard dough. This is easily accomplished with the following recipe that I developed from various sources:

  • 150 grams Extra Fancy durum flour
  • 150 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 small fresh eggs
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Approximately 4 to 5 tablespoons water
  • Sea salt
A quick word about these ingredients. I recommend using Giusto's Extra Fancy durum and all-purpose flour in this recipe. As to eggs, I have four chickens whose eggs greatly vary in size. In this recipe I used two small white eggs from Lucia, a Sicilian Buttercup. The amount of water depends upon how the other ingredients are getting along. You want a hard dough so add just enough water to bring your ingredients together.

After mixing the ingredients to form a shaggy ball, knead the dough for a good, long time. I set my kitchen timer to 10 minutes and have at it. Ten minutes of kneading is usually enough time to achieve an excellent dough. Flatten the dough, which should weigh about 450 grams (just shy of 1 pound), into a disk and slip it into a plastic bag to rest for 1 1/2 hours in the refrigerator.

Your dough is now ready to extrude. This is the exciting part! Lightly dust the dough with some of the durum flour and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Slip a piece of your dough into the torchio and crank the handle until you sense pressure.

Now a few words about what comes next. You will be surprised at the amount of pressure needed to create your bigoli. With a hard dough you will encounter a good deal of resistance. Lightly dust the bigoli as it emerges from the torchio. I found that although the pasta was slightly sticky, I had no problem separating the strands into individual pieces. You can cut the bigoli into whatever length you choose; I aim for approximately 12 inch long strings.

Cooking bigoli is straight forward if you are familiar with cooking fresh pasta. Add enough sea salt to boiling water to approximate the taste of sea water. Add your fresh bigoli and when the water returns to the boil, cook for approximately 3 minutes. Taste as you go to achieve your desired texture.

Update: Torchio Revisted