Pici of You-Know-WhattiPosted by in Food
On Nov 7, Martha had a pasta show. I was totally excited since I love pasta, but I’ve never actually made the actual pasta itself. I had to make one of the recipes to give it a try and decided to go with Iacopo Falai’s pici (pronounced “pee-cee”. It looked pretty simple – I always thought pasta meant you had to have a pasta machine (which I do not), so I was excited that I didn’t need anything special to do this. This is a basic pasta that is hand rolled. No problemo I thought.
Ok, the first problem was the recipe called for “00” flour. On the show, Iacopo and Martha talked about it like it was a common thing. I’d never heard of it, but I’d never made pasta so I figured it was a no-brainer. My grocery store had nothing like this. They did have something called “pasta flour” which was a mix of semolina and durum. I bought that, figuring it was as close as I was going to get. I will admit up front that this may not have been the right thing for this recipe, but if not, gosh why didn’t they explain this was some specialty item you have to order online or whatever?
Ok, so I started mixing this up in a bowl with my hand mixer. You see, my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and I are estranged. Our relationship is in danger and I’ve even considered a divorce – selling it on Craigslist. It is so darn heavy that I almost always would just rather get out my little mixer. I also hate how it is impossible to get anything to go in the bowl when you have the beater down. I just find the whole thing inconvenient. So, I started with the hand mixer. I did as it said and added the water gradually. It did not come together at all. Not even a little bit. So I gave in and hauled out the Kitchen Aid monster.
Let me give you some background on my state of mind here before I go any further. I have been sick all week with a sinus infection – no voice, constant nose blowing, not sleeping at night – you get the picture. The day before, mini-Martha spilled an entire glass of lemonade on a laptop. Huge, expensive disaster. Mr. MarthaAndMe has been away almost every night this week at meetings and events. Like everyone else in America, we are worried about bills and money. It has simply been a miserable week from start to finish.
With that as background, please close your eyes and picture me setting up
the @#$*# Kitchen Aid, dumping my pasta mixture in and turning it on, only to discover that the bowl was not locked in properly and the mixer was not completely locked in the down position. I had a tornado of pasta mix swirling around me uncontrollably. I fully expected to land in some weird Italian Oz. I shut it off and cleaned it up with some colorful language. The dogs of course thought it was fantastic and began licking the floor in earnest (and if you read the Crabby Cake post, you know that meant they were also licking my feet which makes me NUTS).
Ok, so once I finally scraped the pasta off the walls and got it mixing and it wasn’t coming together at all. It was way too dry. So I added a little more water and a little more and so on until I doubled the amount of water in the recipe. Then it was together, sort of, but I was afraid to add any more. I mixed in the parsley (the Kitchen Aid protested this and I think it could have burned out the motor had I not intervened – but would that have been a great loss?) and then let it rest for 30 min as directed.
I came back all excited to roll this out as I saw them do on tv. Silly me to think it would be easy. You’re supposed to roll this on the counter or a board in the same way you used to make Play-Doh snakes as a kid. You want to get an 8 inch piece that is 1 inch in diameter. Martha and her guest chef made this look so easy and fun. Not for me. The dough simply shredded and crumbled when I rolled it. Total mess. I was able to get a few long pieces with much smushing it together, and then because I was
sweating like a hog and was ready to cry from frustration and exhaustion, I gave in and just shaped the rest into about 4 inch long pieces without really rolling it. It took forever. I think I was standing there about 45 min.
For the sauce, I shunned the sausage ragout (I hate sausage) in the recipe and made a fun little sauce with olive oil, stewed tomato, garlic, broccoli, scallions, spinach, mushrooms and herbs.
Finally, Mr. MarthaAndMe called to say he was on his way home from work, so I got the water boiling and dumped my sad looking pici in. The recipe says to cook it for about 4 minutes. I don’t know what galaxy that 4 minutes would be in, but in this galaxy it took 40 minutes for this to cook. Again, there I was, standing over a Martha dish, practically in tears, ready to drop dead from exhaustion.
I didn’t think it looked very attractive at all when done. Mini-Martha thought it looked like worms, which is always what I want to hear as I’m sitting down to eat. I put the sauce on and we also sprinkled some bacon and parmesan cheese (also called nectar of the gods) on top.
The pasta tasted ok, but it was really heavy and doughy tasting. There was tons and tons left (this was supposed to feed 4 – we had 3 diners tonight and maybe ate 1/8 of it). I froze the rest. When I defrost it, I think I am going to cut it up into little gnocchi type pieces to make it more appetizing and manageable. My sauce was quite yummy.
So, I’m pretty disappointed with this recipe, especially after Martha raved
about she always ordered the pici at Iacopo’s restaurant and she just loves it. Maybe my flour was at fault – I don’t know. But the whole thing just did not go smoothly and I’m bummed.
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