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Rice and Pasta

Ferrazzuoli alla mollica - Ferrazzuoli with fried breadcrumbs (Basilikata)

Italian Pasta Treat

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Ferrazzuoli are a pasta speciality from Basilicata. They take their name from the thin metal roller used to roll them out. Not only do they taste good with a sauce made with breadcrumbs, they're delicious with tomato-based sauces as well. Italian flour made from durum wheat is not easily available everywhere, so we recommend you use a mixture of bread flour and semolina. The semolina gives the pasta the necessary 'bite'. You could roll the dough around a 1 mm knitting needle.

Ingredients for 6-8 people

Ferrazzuoli:

600 g durum wheat (substitute 400 g bread flour and 200 g fine semolina), a pinch of salt, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, 6 eggs

Mollica:

6 large slices stale white bread, 2 cloves garlic, 8 - 10 tablespoons olive oil, salt, paprika spice

Method:

Make a dough from the flour, salt, olive oil and eggs. It should be smooth, shiny and quite moist. Use less, rather than more flour to begin with, because it's always easier to knead more flour into a moist dough than it is to add more liquid to a dough that is too dry. Leave the dough to rest under a damp cloth for 30 to 45 minutes. Shape the dough into a long, narrow, flat roll about 7 - 8 cms wide and no thicker than 2 - 3 cms. Cut into slices about 1cm wide and shape into thin rolls. Wrap these around a thin metal rod about 1mm diameter and use this to roll them out, making a hollow noodle. Pull the ferrazzuoli from the rod and put them aside on a floured board until time to cook them. Repeat these steps carefully, making sure that the hollow noodles are all about 7 cms long.

Boil about 5 litres of water in a large pan, adding one and a half to two tablespoons salt. Cook the pasta until it is al dente ... soft but still with a little 'bite'. The cooking time depends on the freshness and thickness of the pasta dough. Ferrazzuoli that have dried out completely will need two to three times as long as those that are really fresh, and thick pasta takes longer than thin. We recommend that you begin trying the pasta after about 2 minutes. Take out a piece of pasta with a slotted spoon every 30 seconds or so, and test it for 'bite'. This stage is very important if you have no experience with home-made pasta. Once you are more experienced, you'll be able to judge more easily and won't need to keep trying the pasta. When the pasta is al dente, strain and put into a hot pan with the bread sauce. Stir in the sauce and serve right away. N.B. Start making the bread sauce before you put the water for the pasta on to boil.

Bread sauce:

Grate the hard stale bread coarsely. Peel the garlic cloves, chop finely and sweat in olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs and fry in olive oil until golden brown ... season to taste with salt and paprika. Pour over the hot pasta and serve immediately.

Tip:

To cook pasta, take a large pan and allow 3 litres water and a tablespoon salt for 500 g pasta. For more pasta, simply allow more water. Add a spoonful of olive oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

The best test of readiness with pasta is to keep trying it. A minute or two before it is due to be ready, take a piece of pasta from the pan and test whether it is too soft or still has 'bite'. "Al dente" is when it still has some 'bite' or firmness. At this point, drain the pasta immediately. Only run cold water over the pasta if you are planning to serve it in a gratin sauce or a salad.

If you don't want to make the pasta yourself, use ready-made hollow pasta such as penne or bucatini.