Fresh Pappardelle

Something I like making when I have a little time is fresh pasta, with a rich and fragrant sauce. Pappardelle are good with a sauce made from sausages; Maltese sausages are perfect, but for those of us overseas, any good full flavoured sausage such as Italian, Toulouse or Venison are good choices.

For the pasta, I always use the basic recipe from an Italian classic in cookery book terms, given to all new brides (or so they say!) – The Silver Spoon is my guide. Making pasta is an immensely therapeutic and gratifying process. I should do this more often.

Sift 200g of Italian type 00 plain flour (it does make a difference starting with the good stuff!) and a pinch of fine sea salt into a mound on a clean work top – you’ll need a bit of space. Make a small well in the centre and add two lightly beaten eggs to the well.

Using your finger tips, gradually mix the flour into the eggs and once you have a dough, knead this for about 10 minutes. If you feel it’s too thin or soft, add a little more flour. If you think it’s too thick or hard, add a tiny amount of water at a time and knead well until it feels right.

Once smooth and elastic, shape the dough into a ball, then rest the dough for 15 to 20 minutes. If you have a pasta machine, use this as per the instructions to roll the dough out thinly. A very fine alternative is to roll the dough out with a rolling pin on a floured surface (as I said, you need lots of space!) – take your time as it can tear. Then use a wheeled pastry cutter to cut strips or sheets.

To be honest, the pasta will taste great whatever the shape so don’t stress – you can always call it Maltagliata pasta (badly cut!). Leave the pasta to rest on a clean, lightly floured tea cloth while you make the sauce.

For the sausage sauce, lightly fry a red onion and clove of garlic with celery seeds, black pepper and ground fenugreek and once translucent, add the sausages, removed from their silky casing and split randomly into small chunks and lumps. Once browned, add some passata or home-made sieved tomato sauce and cook for about 20 minutes. It probably won’t need any salt if made from sausages, but test and see.

Once the sauce is ready, add the pasta to a large pot of boiling, salted water for a mere 2-3 minutes until cooked.

Serve with a slightly spiced red wine as befits a strong meat sauce.

Pasta variations; when you’ve got the hang of the dough, you can add all sorts to create delicate, complimentary flavours. A little ground pepper, a sprinkle of pimenton, a dash of tarragon, finely-chopped lemon zest to make a perfect accompaniment to seafood sauce, a small amount of soaked saffron with the eggs, a shaving of truffles, chive flowers delicately snipped from their partner flowerlets, ground fennel… The list is endless.

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