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Thursday, May 26, 2011


I adore making fresh pasta.  I know there are great dried pastas available.  I've used  them...a lot, but there is nothing like fresh made pasta.  I like the way it feels in my hands when I make it and love the mouthfeel it has when I eat it. I've made it so often that I don't really follow pasta recipes any longer.  I simply feel it. 

Lately, I've been on a tear, making two batches of fresh pasta in the past week. Somehow, I got distracted and forgot about the first batch until it was too late, so I was determined to put the second batch of pasta dough to good use. 

The second batch.  I was out of semolina flour, so I sifted 1 1/2 cups of 00 flour into a bowl and made a well in the center of the flour.  I dropped one whole egg along with one egg yolk into the center of the well and drizzled olive oil over the eggs with a pinch of salt.  I carefully pulled the flour from the outer edges of the well into the eggs and mixed the flour with the eggs until it formed a loose ball of dough. After turning it out onto a floured board, I kneaded it for several minutes until it was perfect, adding additional flour or water as neccessary to reach the correct consistency.  I wrapped it up and let it rest for 30 minutes.

The fun part. Using an ordinary bench scraper, I divided the pasta dough into fourths. With my pasta roller set to the lowest setting, I passed the dough through the rollers several times, folding it in half and flouring it before each pass until it was smooth an pliable. When it was ready to roll, I cranked the dough through the rollers,  increasing the setting with each pass until it was paper thin.  I floured each sheet and let them dry for a few minutes before cutting them.

Once cut, I tumbled the floured pasta ribbons into nests to dry before cooking them.

Pasta with......what? I had a small chicken and few miniature bell peppers.  I decided to drape the fresh pasta with a sensual chicken paprikash.

Mise en place. I thinly sliced miniature red, orange, and yellow bell peppers.  I smashed a couple of garlic cloves, thinly sliced an onion, and dropped them into a bowl with the peppers..

I cut the backbone from  the chicken and tossed it into my chicken-parts freezer bag for future stock making.

After removing the backbone, I sliced the chicken in half, seasoned the halves liberally with salt and cracked black pepper, seared them on both sides in a hot skillet until well browned, and removed them from the pan.  While the pan was still hot, I drizzled it with olive oil and sauteed the peppers and onions until they started to caramelize. Just before they melted  into pepper-onion candy, I added the smashed garlic and a heaping tablespoon of Spanish paprika. 

When the paprika was nicely toasted in the sizzling oil, I deglazed the pan with a cup of white wine and let it reduce by half before adding 3 cups of chicken stock. As the braising liquid started to bubble, I slid the chicken back into the pan, scattered quartered roma tomatoes over the chicken, clamped a lid on the pepper pot, reduced the heat to a simmer, and let the chicken braise for 45 minutes-ish.  That was the plan.

That was the plan before I joined Michael in the parlor for several glasses of wine.  Even though the house smelled amazing with paprikash wafting through every room, I forgot about it. My bad.  Thank goodness long braises are very forgiving.  The paprikash was very very forgiving. After an hour and a half, I resumed my kitchen duties.

It went fast.

I dropped the pasta into heavily salted boiling water to cook for 2 minutes until al dente.  While the pasta boiled away, I removed the chicken from the reduced braising liquid,  pulled the pan from the heat, and folded a cup of creme fraiche into the sauce, turning  the vivid red  paprika-pepper sauce into a umber blanket of silkiness. I slid the chicken back into the sauce, turning it several times to completely bathe it.

I pulled the pasta from the boiling water, tossed it with butter and minced fresh parsley, plated it, nestled the chicken into the pasta, and spooned the remaining sauce over the chicken.

It was decadent. The moist tender chicken  literally fell from the bones into the pasta, swirling through the velvety rich and sweetly spiced paprika sauce. Michael and I tore it apart, slurping pasta, sucking bones, and licking our fingers until it was completely gone.

I'm not kidding.

Chicken paprikash with fresh pasta.


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