HOW TO PREPARE AUTHENTIC ARGENTINE PASTA
As they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do". Since we can't travel to Rome right now to find out exactly what that means, I'd like to share with you one of the many great experiences I've had here in Mendoza, Argentina that just might scratch that travel itch. I am ever so grateful to be-cohabiting with a wonderful family here for the last several months. We've become QUITE familiar with each other having been in quarantine together since March 17. As my newly adopted family, this opportunity has given me plenty of time to learn the ways of Argentinians.
One of the most surprising aspects of Argentine culture is the abundance of pastas and Italian-influenced foods here (which makes sense as Argentina's culture and history has been heavily influenced by Italian immigrants). It is said that Argentina considers itself to be more European than it does South American. Because of this, there is no shortage of fresh pasta, especially if you live with some amazing cooks! So, I have been eating very well and happily here with fresh pasta on-tap, maybe a little too well...I'm just going to keep telling myself my clothes are shrinking.
The first time I had fresh pasta was only several years ago when visiting Las Vegas, Nevada in a restaurant at the Mirage Hotel that was dedicated to cuisine from the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy. It was so good, I think I spent the rest of the week comparing all of the other food I ate to it. Also, if you've never been to Vegas, do yourself a favor and go for the food. So, when offered the chance to learn to make it myself, I jumped. And now I'd like to share a summary of that experience with you too.
Step-By-Step Authentic Fideos Caseros
What You'll Need
A Pasta Machine
Several mixing bowls
Whisk or Mixer
Plenty of counter space
Eggs (1 per person you are serving)
Olive Oil ( 1 tbsp per egg)
Flour, and lots of it (without yeast) In Argentina, this is Tipo 0000.
1. Blend Ingredients:
Combine eggs, olive oil, and salt. Whisk until blended. Slowly add flour and whisk until desired texture/consistency ( it should be relatively firm like dough, not runny ).
2. Prepare the Dough:
Find a space on the counter or use a large baking sheet. Coat with a layer of flour to prevent sticking. Do not use oil or no-stick spray! Scrape the contents prepared in Step 1 onto the flour-coated surface. Begin to kneed the dough adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to the surface. The dough should be firm enough to roll flat without breaking apart. You may have to try it a few times before you get the desired consistency.
3. Flatten the Dough:
Prepare your pasta machine ( If you do not have one, you can use a rolling pin for this step ). Take a manageable amount of dough and press it flat with your hand on the counter or baking surface to change it from a ball shape to a thinner strip. Next, feed this strip into the roller on the pasta machine ( make sure to set your desired thickness on the roller settings ). It is helpful to have an extra set of hands on the other side to receive the pressed strips.
4. Dry the Strips:
After pressing or rolling, place the flat strips on a drying surface. You can use a sheet or cover a baking/cooking surface with flour to prevent sticking. Allow strips to dry enough that flour on the surface gets crusty and dry, but not so long that the strips are brittle. They should remain moist and pliable.
5. Cut the Strips into Desired Pasta Threads:
After drying, cut the strips into manageable lengths. This will determine the length of your pasta. Next, set the desired width for your pasta on the pasta machine ( if you don't have a pasta machine, you can cut the strips into smaller strips of the desired width using a knife ). Feed strips into the pasta machine slowly. Once again, it is helpful to have an extra set of hands on the other side to receive the pasta. Place the cut strips or pasta back onto the drying surface to dry again.
Note: After drying, the pasta can be frozen or stored in Tupperware and saved to cook at a later time.
6. Cook the pasta:
Once the pasta has dried, it is ready to cook! ( If you don't know how to cook or boil pasta, I don't know how you've made it this far in life ). Prepare you favorite pasta sauce or fine olive oil and cheese to accompany your fresh pasta.
7. Serve and Enjoy:
Likely the most important step, savor and enjoy the fruits of your labor! I find this meal is best enjoyed with great company and a bottle of wine. In Argentina, it is typical to serve pasta with olive oil and cheese or in a red sauce with beef.