My friend Tom wonders if I've gone mad. He won't say this, of course, but I know what he's thinking:
You used a meat grinder?
To make pasta!
Thing is, I'm a reasonable man, and so if anybody has a brighter idea, let's have it.
See, the pasta in question isn't one of your popular varieties. It's called bigoli, an extruded pasta that is long like spaghetti but very, very thick. None of the dies I own will make bigoli. In fact, there is a special extruding device made just for the job. It's called a bigolaro, costs more coin than I'm apt to spend at the moment, and if you're interested in seeing one in action, well, say no more: http://fxcuisine.com/default.asp?language=2&Display=199&resolution=high
Tom: KitchenAid makes a pasta extruder. You know that, right?
I (reaching for a box next to one of my many pasta-making contraptions): You mean this one?
Tom (polishing off the last bottle of that terrific vermouth I picked up in Brooklyn at Christmas): That's the one.
I: No can do, Tomasso. Not thick enough.
Tom (curmudgeon-like behavior now appearing): How about that yellow box with all the Italian writing on it?
I (turning downright churlish, possibly because I know I won't be back to Brooklyn, or Long's http://www.longswines.com/, for awhile): What part of, "This meat grinder attachment is the only thing in the house with the remotest possible chance in hell of doing this job" did you not understand, Tommy?
I've gone to the meat grinder attachment (KitchenAid; and I use the smaller of the two dies that come with it) a couple times now. The noodle thickness seems about right, possibly a bit thicker than called for. It's just that the die doesn't produce even a remotely smooth outside, and so the pasta can be a little strange looking. (Yeah, I know, worm-like; good thing I didn't make the squid ink pasta dough.)
But I'm a big fan. Not only is the noodle thick and chewy, which means it'll hold up well in a whole bunch of hearty recipes, but the rough exterior is just perfect for clinging to sauce. The noodle is great in soups too, because it doesn't get mushy. (The dough should be on the stiff side for this noodle; If you don't already, I'd recommend adding a good bit of coarse semolina to whatever flour mix you use for pasta. I'm happy to answer questions, too. And future posts will address flours and pasta making.)
Of course, the dark truth is that a real bigolarist (that's a bigoli maker, or so I'm told) might not even recognize my version of the product, or worse, could tell me that it isn't bigoli at all that I've been slaving over. For shame!
Other hand, when am I apt to run into a bigolarist?
In Maine, no less.