how to make FRESH ORECCHIETTE by hand (Pasta Fatta A Mano)

— Recipe by Evan Funke


Using the method from Evan Funke of Felix Trattoria in Los Angeles and the famous Orecchiette makers of Bari and Puglia, today we learn how to make fresh orecchiette by hand or pasta fatta a mano. Just semolina flour and water are needed, as well as a light technique.


Ingredients

  • 454 g (1lb) Semolina, "00" or AP Flour

  • 225g (Just Less than 8 oz) Tepid Water

Directions:

  1. Sift the flour onto the board (optional). Make a well about 8 inches big where you can see the board in the middle. Add the water and with a fork, begin to work the flour into the water from the interior edge of the wall of flour. Work it together until you reach the consistency of pancake batter. Clean off your fork, then using a bench scraper, fold and cut the rest of the flour into the dough until it comes together enough to knead with your hands, similar to how biscuits are worked. The mass should form after a couple of minutes of working it.

  2. Once a mass is formed, it's time to knead. Take the palm of your hand and pull the dough towards you and then quickly push it away from you and then turn the dough. Do this for about 5 minutes or until the dough is slightly tacky. The ball of dough should be much smoother and slightly shiny. Then wrap the dough in plastic, bottom-up and then pleat the plastic wrap so that it tightly wraps around the dough. Let that rest on the counter for 15 minutes.

  3. After the 15 minute rest, we want to shape the dough. unwrap the dough and then continue to knead the dough. The idea is to work air into the dough. Every knead and turn works air into the dough and contributes to the final texture of the pasta. This time, you're turning the dough in much smaller increments to create a nicely shaped ball of dough. If it seems too dry, you can work a little moisture back in by wetting your hands slightly and continuing to knead. If it's too wet, you can knead the dough on some more flour until it feels right. Knead it for another 5 minutes or until the ball is much smoother and shinier. It should have some bounce to the dough. Wrap the dough again like before and then let the dough rest for a minimum of 2-3 hours on the counter or up to 24 hours in the fridge. The dough will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

  4. Shaping orecchiette.

  5. Once the dough is rested, unwrap from the plastic and cut a piece of the dough and then cover the ball of dough to prevent it from drying out. Using both hands, roll the dough into a long, even rope. Then with a butter knife, cut a thumbnail-sized piece of the dough using even pressure, push down on the dough while rolling towards you. This flattens and stretches the dough and then you take your thumb and fold the dough inside out to form the orecchiette or "little ears''. Then let them cure or semi-dry on a rack before cooking. Letting them dry slightly allows them to hold their shape once cooked. You can leave them out to fully dry or you can store in the fridge to keep fresh if you're going to cook within the next few days. Remember, because fresh pasta is not dried, it does not become al dente. The texture should be more of a chew than it should be an al dente bite. It is different but equally delicious.

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