Handmade pasta is a great addition to any well-crafted menu, but there are a few differences to understand about hand-rolled pasta versus rolling it through a machine. At ChefConnect: Charlotte, Jeff Michaud will show you techniques to master pasta no matter what method you use to create it. Chef Michaud is the culinary director at Terrain Cafe and executive chef of Osteria in Philadelphia, which was nominated for Best New Restaurant in 2010 by the James Beard Foundation. In 2010, Jeff was the recipient of the James Beard Award for Best Mid-Atlantic Chef.
Chef Michaud gives a teaser on what he’ll be demonstrating at ChefConnect: Charlotte. Catch his demo on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Westin Charlotte.
What are some common misconceptions about pasta?
The biggest misconception is that pasta has to be swimming in sauce. This is false. Pasta is a vehicle for sauce and it should be lightly coated. You also need to toss spaghetti and tomato sauce at least 100 times to get the right consistency.
How do you determine which pasta and sauce to serve together?
There are many theories on which pasta goes with a certain type of sauce and I think over time the more you play with the pasta and its condiment, then you can figure out which ones work the best.
Anytime I make a ragù, which is braised and pulled meat, I like to use pappardelle,
fettuccine or fazzoletti because those the ragù holds well to the pasta. When I make ragù’s in the style of Bolognese, which is ground meat, I prefer to use rigatoni, spaghetti or bucatini because the sauce has a place to go inside the pasta with holes and that style of ragù really clings well to spaghetti.
For me, the shape of a ravioli usually dictates the sauce. If I making Agnolotti del Plin, I like to have a sauce that I toss the pasta in because the pocket catches some of the liquid. For flatter ravioli, I usually toss it in a sauce lightly or do some sort of brown butter and herb on top, always adding a sprinkle of cheese before I top with the warm butter. I could go on forever but there is really no wrong or right, it all depends on what you like to make, cook and eat!
What is Eatiquette?
Eatiquette’s mission is to transform the current school cafeteria assembly line into an environment where children gather around the table, pass plates of food to one another and experience social interaction and communication.
Eatiquette started in 2010. We were approached to help with the food for their summer
program and realized that the food needed TLC. So instead of just giving ideas we decided to take over the food program in the summer. What did this mean? It meant that we ordered all fresh products from vegetables to fish and meats staying inside the budget that the school receives for every child from the federal government. We developed recipes, removed all the rectangle tables, added round tables, designated a child to be a table captain, implemented family-style dining to promote conversation and table etiquette.
What are some ways that pasta can be made more exciting or healthy?
- Use olive oil and water to make a sauce instead of butter. It is more difficult to make the emulsion, but once you grasp the technique, it’s incredible!
- Try to buy freshly milled flour. If you have a mill, grind your own flour. The older the flour, the more properties it loses.
- Use ingredients that you have available to you, or that you grow yourself. Don’t limit yourself to exactly what the recipe says, let the imagination take over!
- Have fun with it and learn from mistakes. Don’t let a broken ravioli ruin your day!
How do you feel about hand-rolled pasta versus machine-rolled pasta?
This is a loaded question! If you ask the people of Bologna, the home of pasta, they swear by hand rolling. It is a tradition that has been going on for thousands of years. The hydration of the pasta differs from machine-rolled pasta because you need it to be more pliable to roll out with the mattarello (the three-foot rolling pin). The dough also stays a little thicker than machine-rolled dough, which gives it more of a bite. Neither is right or
wrong, they just require different skills to roll out. I have a great appreciation for both, but it wasn’t until about three months ago that I started hand-rolling myself.
Why is hydration in pasta dough important?
It is really important to use the correct hydration for the type of pasta you’d like to make. When I hand-roll pasta, I use an egg hydration of about 60% because it gives the dough a nice elasticity and stretches properly. When I use an egg yolk dough, the hydration is 80%. It may seem like that is more, but the egg yolks have a thicker viscosity and it takes more to hydrate the flour. The 80% will be less pliable than the 60%, but I use a machine to roll it out.
If I was to use whole eggs and roll it through a machine, I would use 42% to 50% hydration. The other thing to remember is that once you mix it, the flour is not fully hydrated so you should wait about 30 minutes before using the dough, otherwise you could be rolling out unhydrated flour.
Check out the lineup of speakers for the 2018 ACF events.