Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cavatelli Revisited

In a previous post I shared a recipe for making cavatelli with a hand-cranked pasta machine called a BeeBo. This recipe used a dough made with durum flour, eggs, oil and salt. Oretta Zanini De Vita writes in her Encyclopedia of Pasta [2009] that this particular dough is used to make pincinelle, a regional version of cavatelli found around Pesaro in the Marche.

(A quick aside. The inhabitants of Colonna in the province of Rome also make a fresh pasta called pincinelle. But do not worry about confusing Colonna’s version with Pesaro’s—they look nothing alike. Colonna’s pincinelle resembles a fresh bucatini (i.e., long, thin, and hollow) while Pesaro’s pincinelle looks like a little rolled gnocchi.)

Although the cavatelli made with eggs and oil in the Marche is authentic, it does not represent cavatelli’s standard which is made with only durum flour and water. If you want to try a traditional cavatelli and, at the same time, expand your cavatelli maker’s repertoire, I offer the following recipe for a flour and water dough.
1) Weigh out the flour and sift it into a large mixing bowl.

2) Make a well in the flour. Add just enough cold water into the flour with a fork until a crumbly dough forms.

3) Clean the dough off of your fork and add this dough to the bowl.

4) Holding the bowl with one hand, reach into the bowl with your other hand and continue to mix the dough by hand. In small increments, add as much of the cold water as needed to incorporate all of the flour in the bowl into a rough dough that holds together.

5) Turn your dough onto a clean work surface. Wash your hands to remove any dough before kneading.

6) If necessary, lightly dust your work surface. Knead the dough until smooth; this can take a full 10 minutes or more.

7) Lightly flour the dough and wrap it in plastic. Let the dough rest on the counter for 20 minutes.

8) Unwrap the dough and lightly dust it with flour. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 3/8-inch thickness. As best you can, square off the sides of the dough sheet to form a square. Cut the dough lengthwise into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide strips.

9) Attach your cavatelli machine to a sturdy work surface. Feed the dough strips into the machine by cranking the machine’s handle. Cavatelli will fall out of the machine’s round head onto your work surface. Lightly dust the cavatelli with flour to prevent them from sticking together and spread them out on a floured board. After feeding through all of the dough, you should have approximately 1 pound of cavatelli.

Cook these cavatelli in the same way as was you would the Marche version. Heat a large pot full of salty water to a boil. Add the cavatelli. After you add the pasta, the boil may slow or disappear. Mix the pasta in the water to help prevent the pasta from sticking together. After the water has returned to a full boil for approximately 3 minutes, start testing the cavatelli. The pasta is ready when it loses its raw taste. It should be chewy but not gummy. Drain the pasta into a colander and shake the colander to remove excess water. Add the cavatelli into your ready sauce and cook the two together for a minute or so.

The BeeBo makes short work of creating fresh pasta. Of the handmade pasta makers that I currently own (a torchio da bigoli, an Imperia 220 Manual and a BeeBo), the BeeBo processes a pound of dough into a ready-to-use shape in the least amount of time. (The torchio comes in a close second depending upon the die used.)