Although sometimes a laborious task, making homemade pasta can be a rewarding and delicious feat. But getting the perfect pasta can be tricky. You have to have the right ratio of dough ingredients, know how to work the dough to just the right consistency, and have the patience to roll it out and form it to the desired shape. To get pro pasta-making tips we spoke with Ed Cotton, executive chef of Sotto13 in New York and Top Chef alum.
Chef Cotton tells us that the type of flour used is important —00 flour and All Trumps flour will get you a lighter and less chewier pasta. He also keeps chestnut flour on hand along with whole wheat flour, but he says that “usually, it’s a blend of 00 Caputo flour and All Trumps flour.” When making pasta, chef Cotton doesn’t use eggs all the time. His “cavatelli dough and orecchiette dough just require the right amount of flours and warm water to make [the dough] come together.” After everything is mixed together, the final consistency of the dough should be quite firm. He also tells us that a pasta maker is a must, and it’s hard to achieve a thin, rolled out sheet of pasta without using a pasta maker. His number one tip: “buy fresh farm eggs!” Chef Cotton tells us that fresh eggs “will make your pasta dough bright and tasty.” Also, he recommends not making the dough in a food processor, but kneading it by hand instead to get the best results.
After the expert pasta is made, what about sauces? For a tomato sauce, chef Cotton likes to caramelize anchovies in the pot before adding garlic and onions. He says that this “brings a depth to the sauce that’s like no other.” He also says that “finding the right brand of tomatoes is key. La Valle tomatoes are a great brand of canned tomatoes to use for your sauce. I also like to use fresh herbs in my sauce while simmering it. I make a sachet of basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme and cook it down with the sauce.”
If you are going to embark on making homemade pasta at home, try using some of chef Cotton’s expert tips. Creating a special dish of homemade pasta is nothing more than a bowl of love (and hard work) that everyone will enjoy.
Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.