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The Beauty of Fresh Pasta
Making homemade pasta is well worth the extra effort. It has a texture and flavor that's much better than dried, store-bought pasta from the supermarket, and the act of making the dough and rolling it out on a pasta machine is fun for the whole family. Once you master using a pasta maker, you won't consider buying boxed dried again.
Here is a step-by-step guide to making homemade pasta using a hand-crank pasta machine, in this instance the Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Machine. You can sauce it with whatever you'd like, but basil pesto or tomato sauce with Italian sausage emphasize the texture and flavor of the fresh pasta.Continue to 2 of 14 below.
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Combine the Ingredients
The first step to making homemade pasta is to combine all of the ingredients, of which there are only three. You will need:
On a work surface, pour the flour into a mound, and make a well in the middle. Crack the eggs carefully into the well, making sure that the sides of the well are high enough so the egg doesn't spill over. Add a generous pinch of salt to the eggs.Continue to 3 of 14 below.
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Mix the Dough
With a fork, gently whisk the eggs in a circular motion, gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well. Not all of the flour will get absorbed into the eggs. You should stop when you have a sticky mass of dough.Continue to 4 of 14 below.
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Knead the Dough
Scrape all of the dough together into a ball and begin kneading it, spreading a little of the extra flour over the work surface if the dough begins to stick. Knead the dough by pressing firmly into it with the heel of your hand, folding the dough over towards you, giving it a quarter turn, and repeating the pressing and folding motion. Continue kneading for 3 to 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and let rest 20 minutes on the countertop.
In the meantime, put a pot of water on the stove to boil, since you'll want to cook the pasta soon after you've made it—otherwise it will dry out.Continue to 5 of 14 below.
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Wrap and Rest
Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and let rest 20 minutes on the countertop.Continue to 6 of 14 below.
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Divide the Dough
Set up your pasta machine, clamping it to a table, countertop, or sturdy cutting board. Turn the dial to the widest setting (usually setting number 1 on the dial). Divide the pasta dough into four pieces.Continue to 7 of 14 below.
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Working with the first piece (keep remaining pieces covered with plastic wrap), flatten it into a rectangle shape.Continue to 8 of 14 below.
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Starting with one of the shorter sides of the rectangle, feed it through the rollers.Continue to 9 of 14 below.
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Fold the Dough
Once the dough has come out of the other end, fold one side of the piece into the middle, then fold the other side over that to form 3 layers, as if you're folding a business letter, pressing lightly on the top of the piece of dough to seal it.Continue to 10 of 14 below.
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Feed the Dough into Machine Again
Starting with one of the narrower, open sides of the folded dough, feed the pasta through the machine, again at the widest setting. Repeat the folding and rolling technique on the widest setting for a total of 5 times.Continue to 11 of 14 below.
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Form the Sheet of Pasta
When you've folded and rolled the piece of dough 5 times, then begin rolling it thinner, by turning the dial to the next narrowest setting (most likely number 2). Roll the pasta through the machine. At this point, it's best to work with a helper, so one person can turn the crank and the other person can guide the dough into the machine with one hand and catch it with the other hand, being careful not to stretch or tear the sheet. Without folding the dough between settings, keep reducing the settings until the dough is rolled as thinly as you'd like (you do not have to go to the thinnest setting on the machine). If the sheet of pasta gets too long, you can cut it in half with a knife or a dough scraper—otherwise, you'll end up with unmanageably long noodles.Continue to 12 of 14 below.
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Form the Noodles
Attach the noodle-cutting attachment to the pasta machine according to your manual's instructions. Then feed the thinly rolled sheet of pasta into the cutting attachment, catching the noodles by draping them over your hands as they're cranked out of the machine (again, it's helpful to have another person helping to turn the crank).
Repeat the entire process with the remaining pieces of dough.Continue to 13 of 14 below.
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Keep the Finished Noodles From Sticking Together
Finished noodles can be kept on a special pasta drying rack, or you can scatter them on a sheet pan that's been dusted with cornmeal. Be sure to separate the noodles and toss them with cornmeal; otherwise, they'll stick together.Continue to 14 of 14 below.
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Cook and Sauce the Pasta
Add a small handful of salt to the boiling water and add your pasta. Fresh pasta does not take more than 2 to 3 minutes to cook; it's done when it lightens in color and is "al dente" (firm but tender) to the bite. Drain the pasta well and serve it with the sauce of your choice.