When Frank starts rolling sheets of pasta dough through the pasta machine, he gets this faraway look in his eyes. His breathing slows until it is hard to tell if he is still alive. The muscles in his neck go slack. Even the strands of his beard relax. This last can be messy as crumbs of ancient meals are freed from their hairy chains. I know, that beard thing is kinda gross, but his state of bliss is contagious so that most people are willing to overlook it. For my part, anything that calms Frank's manic episodes is ok with me.
Besides Frank's improved mood, the upside of his pasta transcendence is that we get noodles for dinner. By adding a soupcon of Bud Oil to the noodles, Frank shows us a different way to explore out own minds. And we get a tasty meal out of the deal.
Don't worry if you don't experience a higher plain while making this dish. Frank's meditation requires years of practice and the advice of a trained spirit guide. All I can help you with here is to make the dish.
First, let's talk about pasta machines. Frank uses a hand cranked model that clamps to the edge of the counter. For gadget fans, you can get electric models or an attachment to your Kitchenaid mixer. These machines are available in most good kitchen supply stores or on line. Make sure you get a model that has adjustable widths and rollers for cutting the noodles at different widths.
When I was a kid, we didn't have much money and moved often so we didn't waste money or space on things that we didn't want to pack up every time we moved. Mom didn't let that stop her from making pasta. She rolled out the dough until it was noodle-thin. Then, she scattered flour all over the dough to keep it from sticky and rolled the flat dough up like you would a newspaper to swat a fly. She cut across the roll to make the noodles. If you don't want to deal with a pasta machine, give Mom's technique a try.
In the baking aisle of modern supermarkets, you can find a bag of semolina flour. That's the stuff you need to make pasta. It has just the right amount of gluten and the taste you need. You'll need 2 cups of semolina, 2 cups of white flour, 6 eggs, a pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of Bud Oil. On a large, clean section of your kitchen counter, mix the flours and salt and push them into a little hill. Make an indent in the top of the hill, like the opening to a volcano. Make the opening big enough to hold all the liquid. Break the eggs into the opening and add the oil. Use a fork to stir up the eggs. When they are stirred up, slowly combine flour from the sides into the liquid. If you do it right, by the time the wall is breached, all the liquid will be incorporated. At this point, it all comes together into a ball. Put the ball in the 'fridge to rest for a few hours.
Follow the instructions with your pasta machine to roll the dough out into sheets and then cut the sheets into noodles. Hand the noodles on a rack until they are all cut. Put a big pot of water on the stove with a heaping tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. Slip the noodles in and boil them for about 5 minutes until the noodles are tender but not mushy. Drain the noodles reserving a quarter cup of the water. If you toss the noodles with a bit of olive oil, they will not stick together while you make the sauce.
The sauce is a marvel of cheese that will harden your arteries just thinking about it. Worrying is bad for you, so try not to think about how much fat and cholesterol is in this dish. Just grab a sauce pan and heat up a cup and a half of cream with a cup and half of milk until it is simmering. In a mixing bowl, stir up 3 egg yolks. Slowly, pour a small amount of the milk and cream into the mixing bowl. Keep stirring so that the hot liquid does not scramble the egg yolks. When you have about a half cup of milk and cream in the egg mixture, add 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and stir well. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk and cream, turn the heat to medium and keep stirring.
When the mixture starts to bubble, add in a half cup each of grated Parmesan, Romano and Mozzarella cheese. Add the cheese in batches, letting each batch melt before you add the next batch. Season the sauce with garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, salt and pepper. Give the sauce a final stir to make sure everything is incorporated and then toss in noodles.
There are dozens of additions you can make to personalize your fettuccine. Grilled chicken, sausage, artichoke hearts and peas all work well individually or in combinations. Frank adds extra butter and garnishes the dish with Danish fried pork rinds.
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