Earily good pasta.

We used to own a pasta machine, but frankly the fresh spaghetti and tagliatelle that it produced were not worth the effort for me - exit pasta machina and no more home made fresh pasta for us. A few months ago however we had excellent, freshly made orechiette ("ears") at local restaurant Sapori e recordi. Simple but amazingly good, and no pasta machine required.

It took a few months but yesterday we finally came around to trying this ourselves. Not at the kind of finger-breaking speeds Italian nonna's seem to manage on all the YouTube video's I watched, but at a nice meditative pace.

The real secret of this pasta is rolling the 'ears' - apparently possible in one swift move, but also in a few steps. First you form the dough into 2cm rolls. Then you cut of a 2cm piece and, holding a blunt knife at a 45 degree edge, spread the pasta onto a wooden board with a little pressure. This way a curved slice of dough is produced. Turn it inside out and clean it up if needed and voilà - an ear-shaped piece pasta.

The sauce, like most Italian food, isn't too complicated but needs good ingredients. Choose flavorful,  ripe and firm tomatoes (preferably the coeur de boeuf variety), good wine and nice ground beef, preferably a piece of stewing meat your have coarsely ground or chopped yourself.


Sauce (too much for one dinner, but it freezes very well)
  • 2kg firm tomatoes, cut in pieces
  • 800g minced beef
  • generous amount of olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 200ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp oregano
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • salt (see recipe)
  • pepper
Pour a generous layer of olive oil in a casserole, heat it up and color the meat. Add the onions wait for some colour on these as well before adding the garlic. Then add the wine, allowing to evaporate some of the alcohol before adding the other ingredients. Add some salt at this point, but keep in mind this sauce will reduce in volume by about half.

Leave the sauce to stew for as long as you can stand to wait - it has to reduce by half, creating a nice thick sauce with nice strong, stewy flavors. This will take at least an hour and a half, but more is better in this case. Don't forget to stir every once in a while, and add some water if the sauce gets too thick. Finally add salt to taste.

Pasta (serves 4 )
  • 200 gram flour tipo 00
  • 100 gram semolina
  • 3 gram salt
  • ca 200 ml tepid water
Mix the dry ingredients with half of the water, gradually adding more water until you can knead it into a firm, supple and elastic dough. Keep kneading for a while before rolling it out into long strips of about 2cm diameter. Use the description above to create the orechiette, placing them next to each other on a floured surface.

Cook the pasta in a large amount of salted boiling water until just done, which takes only a few minutes. Meanwhile heat up some olive oil in a skillet. Drain the pasta and add to the skillet, tossing it in the hot oil. Add sauce to taste, and some pasta water if the sauce is to thick. Mix it well, heat through for a moment and serve with freshly grated parmezan and a bold red wine.

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