Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cavatelli with beef

After completely busting my pasta machine, fingers and sense of humour when making alkaline noodles (recipe to come) for a nice tasty bowl of Ramen, I headed online looking to replace the cursed finger shredding hell beast, much to my pleasant surprise they are considerably less expensive than when I first purchased the pile of scrap metal. Ultimately I got completely distracted and ended up buying a Cavatelli machine from Amazon rather than one of the pasta machines from Trade Me, which I should really get around to sometime. Shipping speeds being rather good these days I didn’t have to wait long to get my hands on the machine and start playing. Ratios, recipes and advice is a little hard to find online if you’re not that interested in trying out non-ricotta cavatelli as I was, but after a bit of research, piles of books, and finding a curry cavatelli in Lucky Peach issue #1, I felt comfortable I had a decent basic cavatelli dough (not ricotta or egg pasta).

Little did I know that was just the start of the trouble shooting, making the dough is pretty straight forward, it’s a little like kneading a brick much like making alkaline noodle dough, but by the end it’s pretty pliable and easy to handle. The main cause consternation is getting the strips of dough the right thickness and width to run through the machine, they have to be wide enough to take up most of the roller, but not so wide than when compressed they get caught in the side, and has to be thick enough to be compressed when pulled through so it curls and makes a dense piece of pasta, too thin and it’ll just pass through and the texture is all off. Well I still have a lot of practice to get consistently good cavatelli, but I’m sure it’ll be one of those light-bulb moments when I nail the perfect thickness and width.

1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 Cups Flour
1/2 cup Hot water
1 tsp Baking powder
Big pinch of salt

Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the water and oil. Mix together, and form into a ball. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes to hydrate a bit.

Knead, it will be very stiff and a lot of hard work, after about 5 minutes wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Knead again for about 5 minutes, wrap it and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out and cut into strips ready to roll through the Cavatelli machine.

Once passed through you can freeze in a single layer (and then transfer to container) or cook straight away, in plenty of salted water boil for 4-5 minutes.

Braised Beef
This is a pretty versatile sauce, loosen it with a little of the pasta cooking water before tossing it through the cavatelli. Leftovers are great when reheated with some sautéed cavolo nero.

Stewing beef, cubed
Celeriac, diced
Carrot, diced
Onion, diced
Fennel bulb, diced
Chicken stock
Bay leaves
Parsley, finely chopped
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Heat a decent glug of olive oil in an oven proof dish and brown the beef all over, add 4 or 5 anchovies, cook until they have melted into the oil. Toss in the onion and fennel, cook until translucent. Add the remaining ingredients, adding enough stock so the liquid is almost covering everything. Place on a lid and cook in a slow oven until falling about, about 130ºC for a few hours.

Spoon out about a third of the sauce, and as much meat as possible, pass the remaining sauce through a mouli, pull the meat apart with a fork, stir everything back together, taste and season.

Take enough sauce for the number of portions, I’m a nerd and usually do a portion at a time, if it needs reheating place in a pan on a medium heat, loosen with some pasta water and toss the cavatelli through the sauce, serve up. To add a little extra dress with a little lemon-chilli oil* and parsley.

*Lemon-chilli oil: 1 part peppery olive oil, 1 part lemon juice, chilli flakes, and salt.

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