Fresh handmade pasta takes a little time (maybe less than you’d think), but it’s worth it. This pappardelle, rolled thin, is delicate and tastes amazing with this deep and robust meat sauce.
Serve this dish with a great glass of red wine, and you will be truly happy.
2 lbs. ground beef
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
Dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semolina flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
Warm water (as needed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
The meat sauce is essentially a simple dish to prepare, but the flavor develops by cooking it slowly for several hours (4-6 hours if you have the time). Meat sauces like this are also better the next day, so you can definitely make it a day or two ahead without a problem.
Start by soaking your dried mushrooms in water until they reconstitute a bit. Once they’re ready (5-10 minutes depending on how dry they are), remove them from the liquid, and chop them finely for your sauce. Save the water that you used to soak the mushrooms for later as well.
Next, chop your vegetables into a micro-dice (very fine). A mezzaluna knife is actually designed for this, so if you have one that will work great, but if not, you’ll be fine dicing your vegetables normally with a chef’s knife. A food processor is also not recommended for this (others may disagree). The vegetables can become soupy, and don’t lend themselves well to caramelizing in the next step.
Next, sauté your vegetables in olive oil until they are well caramelized, and add your ground beef. Continue to cook until the beef is browned and fully cooked, and then add your tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook for a bit (it may stick a little, which is fine), then deglaze with a generous amount of red wine (a cup or two), and then add the mushroom water (strained through cheese cloth), and enough water (or chicken stock) to cover the sauce (it should be very watery at this point).
Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover, and simmer for 4-6 hours (or longer if you like). Check the sauce periodically, and add wine as needed. The goal is to add the bottle of wine throughout the course of cooking (and then water if needed).
When you’re close to completion, remove the lid, and let the sauce thicken to a good consistency for pasta.
Sift your dry ingredients together, and then add your eggs and olive oil, and bring the dough together. Add water as needed, then turn onto a floured work surface, and kneed for 10-15 minutes.
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour then divide the dough into quarters to begin to work with.
With a pasta roller, start on the widest setting and run the dough through. Next fold the dough over on itself and run it through the same setting again (do this twice). Finally, run the dough through normally on the same setting before moving to the next setting on your roller.
Repeat this process for each setting until your pasta is the desired thickness. This pasta is very broad, so rolling this very thin works best.
When your pasta has been rolled into sheets, trim them into nice rectangles, then flour each side, and fold the sheets lengthwise several times. Your goal is to have a sheet of pasta that has been folded over so that it’s 5-6 inches long (this makes cutting easier).
Next, cut the folded pasta into even strips (1 to 2 inches wide), then unfold them, and hang on a pasta rack until you are ready.
Assembling the Pasta
When you are ready to cook your pasta, boil it in salted water until fully cooked, but al dente. This will only take a few minutes since it’s fresh pasta.
Remember to reserve some of the pasta water, in case that’s needed as well.
In a large sauté pan, heat some of your sauce and add toss in your cooked pasta. Add enough sauce to coat the pasta well, and remove it from the heat.
Finish by tossing in a generous amount of grated parmigiano reggiano, and it’s ready to serve.