Pasta maker pasta maker pasta maker! I’ve been begging for one for months, finally got one, and have gotten to use it… twice. Let’s not talk about the ravioli episode (two weeks ago, when what should have taken 2 hours took 6 instead). This was my first attempt at making homemade pasta and it was… ambitious, but went well! My first batch of pasta was heavily overkneeded and completely fell apart. Frustrated (and hungry), my guests suggested I abandon the pasta and just wing it to make gnocchi… or dumplings… or damn it, throw the damn dough in the water and let’s just eat for chrissake. While one of them tackled the abandoned pasta with a knife to cut it into strips, I took a deep breath and began the second batch. Trying not to overthink the directions too much, I completely ignored the instructions on the pasta maker box and ran the dough through just once (it instructed to run the dough through 10 times!) at each setting. To my absolute shock, it worked, and the rest of the pasta took less than 5 minutes to make.

The ragu, compared to the pasta, is a breeze.

The meal, taken together, is divine. Genius.

Mario Batali’s mint tagliatelle with lamb and olives

Remember a few posts back when I said I couldn’t think of anything to do with my mint bush? Well, this recipe took care of that. I now no longer have a mint bush. I’m praying for it to grow back so I can make this again!

Step 1: Make the ragu
Season 1 lb lamb shoulder, cut into 1 inch chunks, with salt and pepper, and add to 1/4 c hot olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan (with lid) over high heat. Sear on all sides, and remove to a plate. Add chopped carrot, onion, 1 stalk celery, 4 cloves garlic, and 1/2 bunch thyme (on stem, tied with twine). Reduce heat to medium high and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 c red wine, 16 oz can peeled tomatoes crushed by hand plus juice, and deglaze the pan. Bring to a boil and return meat to pan. Simmer for 1 1/2 hrs until meat is extremely tender.

Step 2: Make the mint tagliatelle
Blanch 1 c mint leaves in boiling water for 45 seconds, plunge in ice bath. Now, Mario says here to puree in food processor. Perhaps I have the world’s lamest food processor but I could not process 1 c mint leaves for the life of me which is probably why my tagliatelle is speckled and not solid green. I did my best and chopped the mint as finely as I could.

Add the mint to 4 large eggs, 1/2 t olive oil, and dump the wet ingredients into a “well” created in the middle of a pile of 3 cups flour. Keep 1/2 cup on hand if you need more flour; however, I found this to be dry enough already and had to add water to keep the dough sticky. Using a fork, mix the wet ingredients in a circular pattern and gradually incorporate the flour from the inside of the well. Every time I have tried this my well collapses and I have to quick-mix and start kneeding, which is probably why my dough doesn’t need much work in the pasta machine. The basic idea is for the dough to be elastic, a little sticky (not dry or stiff), and it should NOT start to fall apart when you run it through the machine. Once the flour is incorporated, kneed the dough for 5 minutes, then let rest for 30 minutes. Follow the directions on your machine to thin and cut the dough, but keep in mind the “feel” and don’t overwork the dough!

Step 3: Finish the pasta
Shred the meat in the sauce, add 1/4 lb olives, and simmer for 30 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm. Cook the pasta for about 1 minute (fresh pasta cooks very quickly and is SO tender!). Divide pasta and ragu among 4 plates and top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

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