I find cooking with Mom, an almost old, and no longer 100% traditional Italian lady - she has lived in the US more than 30 years - an amusing undertaking. I am amused because a very different mother-son dynamic comes to life each time we practice the culinary art tegether. In her view, my kitchen is becomes a place where one must thread lightly. She thinks I am a tyrannical maniac in the kitchen, even though I try to explain to her that I am just extremely focused so that I can take care of my guests.
Once we start our joint effort she has the habit double checking with me on the most basic of techniques. My response, as always: "Mom , you have been doing this for a 100 years, don't ask me, you know what to do". When that does not work, I just give here step by step instructions. I feel silly doing so , but the "hungry island" can not be kept waiting..
So this Sunday afternoon, I thought that that it would be great to put to use some equipment that I bought at Home depot. Several months ago, I picked up some stainless steel 3mm wire for suspending ceilings which I then cut into 1 1/2 foot thin segments. These thin rods of wire are the primary tool for making hand made Fusilli. They are used to stretch out and roll out small pieces of dough into a long pasta with a hole in the middle: Fusilli calabresi.
Let's take a look at some details.
Fusilli Calabresi al sugo di pomodoro semplice
If you have dined in a typical Italian-American restaurant, your must have had Fusilli. What you have probably had is short dried Fusilli like the ones seen here at this Barilla site. Well this type of pasta comes in different lengths and different shapes. For example have you ever tried the Fusilli Lunghi Bucati (with hole) . Click here to see them . They are one of my favorites.
In Calabria however, Fusilli denote a hand made pasta that that is long in shape, somewhat thick and has a hole in the middle. They are also usually lacking a spiral twist.
For the Fusilli (enough for 6-8 people)
2 lbs all purpose flour
1 lb of semonlina flour
1-2 lukewarm quarts of water
1 tablespoon of Salt
Several ounces of butter - to lubricant rods, and hands - kept at room temperature
Corn meal as need - to dust pasta to prevent sticking
For tomato sauce;
Use your favorite recipe. My suggestion. Try this pasta with the simplest of sauces, then get creative once you get the pasta down.
Rating: The extended fan club (which includes Mom and sisters) said: "We should have made 4 lbs of flour an still eaten every once of it"
Quick warning. Unless you are an old lady living in the Calabrian country side, Fusilli making will take some time. Best to work in a team of two, one rolling out short segments of dough about the side of your index finger, and the other stretching out the pasta using the wire rod. Each pasta strand is rolled out by hand , and take take a least 30 seconds if you are good at it.
Making the dough
Mix both flours and Salt. Add water a but a a time , making a pasta dough. I usually start this in a mixing bowl, then transfer for hard surface. Please do not overknead. You are not making bread. You can use a food processor. I say make the dough with you hands, it is much more rewarding and the pasta will taste better. Separate the dough into 3-4 equally sized balls, and place in a slightly oiled mixing bowl chill for 1/2 hour. There is no yeast in this pasta, nor eggs . the semonlina flour will provide the extra elasticity (If you can find imported "00" flour from Italy ,then you can use that in place of the mixture.
While the dough is chilling (I find that classical music helps), prepare a resting surface where the pasta will be placed to rest . The best setup is a table covered with a table cloth , sprinkled with some corn meal to prevent sticking.
Fusilli Time !
Once the dough has chilled, cut off small pieces and form segments that are about the size of your index figure. Rub some butter on the tips of your fingers and slightly lubricate the wire rod. Do not use too much butter, as it might add a buttery taste to your pasta. You can use some crisco in the place of butter, if you do not mind a few chemicals.
To roll out each strand of pasta place the wire rod in the middle of the short stub of rough. Gently press down , wrapping the dough around the thin wire rod. With a rolling motion , stretch out the Fusilli stand on the rod. Practice a few times to get this right and to calibrate your technique.
Once the pasta has formed, remove the strand, by holding the wire from one end and pulling off the pasta. Stretch out the strand out as it might have tried to close up a bit, and place on the resting table .
Continue with this process , until all the dough has been used.
Fusilli at rest
Fusilli in salted boiling water. Note that fresh pasta cooks quickly. It is usually done when it starts floating to the top. For past such as this this process is rather quick, and takes place probably after 6-8 minutes. The best way to determine if the pasta is cooked is to taste it . Do not blow it. Like all pasta, hand made fresh pasta must be al dente. It is not , pick up the phone and order take out from Gino's pizza.
Drain, place in a bowl and top with your tomato sauce.