A couple of weeks ago, Emiliomiti had a pasta die sale to celebrate World Pasta Day. I bought a bronze 6mm ridged macaroni die (catalog No. 169) for my Bottene Torchio Model B. Emiliomiti currently offers five different macaroni dies for the torchio with the No. 169 making the smallest pasta of the lot. I picked the No. 169 because its size works particularly well in both soup and sauce. To my taste, elbow macaroni dressed in a tomato sauce, with or without meat, represents the ultimate in comfort food.
Here in the United States, say “macaroni” and most people, especially kids, will conjure the image of a elbow-shaped pasta that is often served in a thick, orangey cheese sauce. The English-language edition of Oretta Zanini De Vita’s Encyclopedia of Pasta defines maccherone (entry No. 140) as a “[g]eneric term for various types of pasta, both fresh and dry, which are boiled in abundant salted water or in broth.” Zanini De Vita writes:
“The story of maccherone on the Italian peninsula has followed tortuous paths that have not yet been fully charted. Today, the term generically indicates a dry pasta of various sizes made with durum-wheat flour and water. But in the south, the word maccheroni is used for some types of fresh pasta and, even more often, for any dry pasta, long or short, from penne to spaghetti to bucatini. In the north, once dominated by rice and polenta, the word maccheroni is the name of a specific type of pasta, usually tubular, short, and curvilinear, like conchiglie (see entry [No. 61]).”
I christened my new No. 169 die with a dough of 80 grams of Central Milling Organic Type 00 Normal, 35 grams Central Milling Extra Fancy Durum, 1.5 grams fine sea salt, and 65 grams of an egg mixture comprised of 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk. I used a standing mixer fitted with a paddle to make a dry-ish, clumpy dough that I formed into a long, thin log. I tightly wrapped this dough log in two sheets of plastic and left it to hydrate at room temperature for 30 minutes. I then removed the plastic wrap, loaded the dough into the torchio fitted with the No. 169 die, and cut the pasta after a quarter-turn of the extruder’s handle. (Actually, my wife cut and I turned. When making a diminutive shape, operating a torchio solo is a real pain in the back.)
I look forward to enjoying these 6mm macaroni in lots of different types of pasta sauces and in soups such as sagne e lenticchie. I paired my freshly minted elbows with some leftover braised lamb shoulder, a little of the lamb’s braising liquid and some peas, all finished with a heavy-hand of Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese. I can’t wait to try the small macaroni with polpettine in a tomato sauce. True comfort food.