Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Imperia Pasta Machine

If you are looking for a pasta roller, look no further! This is the one to buy! For my birthday yesterday, I was very excited that Zelda had gotten me an Imperia Pasta Roller. I have been wanting one of these for years, ever since my stepfather Jim picked one up and we made pasta for the first time as a young kid. After hearing my colleague/chef wanna be Kevin talk about his, it re-kindled my love for homemade pasta, and I can't even begin to explain how excited I was that Zelda had purchased me one for my birthday!
The craftsmanship on this piece is second to none, and based on some of the reviews I have done in researching the perfect machine, she did a great job in choosing this one! This particular model is a Williams Sonoma exclusive, and comes only in the red color which looks very nice.
Tonight, I wanted to give it a try, to make some pasta to run through the machine to get it cleaned out. One thing about this piece is that you never want to wash it or expose it to water. That being said, you have to clean it the best way that you can, without getting it wet.
Tonight, I used a pasta recipe that Kevin had suggested from Saveur.com. The actual recipe is posted at: HOMEMADE PASTA. I stuck with the recipe for the most part, however, I would have substituted one cup of semolina flour for regular flower if Shop Rite carried semolina, which they do not. I will have to make a trip to Whole Foods or Wegman's in the future to get some.
The directions from the website are as follows:
1. Form 3 cups flour into a mound; create a well in center. Sprinkle 1 tsp. kosher salt over flour. Add 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk, 2 tbsp. water, and 1 tbsp. olive oil to well. I combined all these ingredients into a large metal mixing bowl and headed out to "the bistro."
. 2. Using a fork, incorporate eggs and liquid in a circular motion, pulling in small amounts of flour until dough becomes stiff. Using the fork definitely makes it easier, and it keeps your hands from becoming a big mess, but using your hands and fingers works also. I opted to use my fingers and hands. Once I had a good consistency in the dough, I cheated a tad, and put it in the Kitchen Aid mixer with the kneading hook at the lowest setting for 5 minutes. This was another recommendation by Kevin, and it proved to be helpful. Thanks to "Cousin Judy" for getting us the Kitchen Aid as a wedding gift! This thing has proven to be a necessity in our home!
. 3. Knead dough, adding a little flour as necessary, to prevent sticking, until it's smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap; let rest for 30 minutes. For me, I had no problems with sticking, so I am assuming that I may have over measured on my flour, or the recipe is right on. I also did not have the time to let the pasta rest for 30 minutes, but I do think this would help.
. 4. Cut dough into quarters. Since I didn't start until late in the evening, I did not follow this step, and just tore pieces off as needed to insert into the machine.
. 5. Flatten 1 quarter into a rectangle (cover others with a towel). Pass dough through a hand-cranked pasta roller set at widest setting. Using the widest setting here is key. It is very hard to pass your dough through the machine initially at the thinner settings.
. 6. Fold dough in thirds, creating another rectangle; feed open edge through roller set at widest setting. Fold again; roll twice more using same setting. Decrease setting one notch and roll pasta through again; repeat, decreasing setting by one notch each time until you've reached the second-to-last setting, creating a 1⁄16"-thick sheet. This is basically trial and error, but this method seems to work very well.
. 7. Sprinkle sheet with flour; halve crosswise. Transfer to flour-dusted parchment paper. Repeat with remaining dough, adding flour-dusted parchment paper between each layer.
. 8. Tightly roll each sheet, from short end to short end; cut cylinder crosswise into 3⁄8"-wide strips.
. 9. Unroll strips and toss with flour; spread on a floured parchment sheet. Let dry for 30 minutes.
This too is a nice step if you have the time, but I skipped this step. I will definitely do this in the future with future batches as I think it would help.
. To serve: Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente, 3–4 minutes. Drain. That is all it takes, and 4 minutes later you have some of the best pasta you have ever eaten!
This particular batch was not made with a red sauce, however Zelda did whip up a great brown butter with sage and Parmesan sauce that was very tasty. Since this was last minute, we did not have time to make a tomato based sauce, but the whole idea of this experiment was to run some dough through the pasta maker to clean it out, and to see how well it worked. Regardless, the pasta itself was delicious, and I cannot wait to make our next batch.
Final thoughts: this machine is well constructed from quality materials. One downside of this machine is the clamp that holds it to the counter top, but this seems to be a common complaint from others. It just does not work well with rounded counter top edges, so I have to use my engineering skills to develop some kind of wooden block to insert in between the clamp and the edge of the counter. I think this will be an easy fix.
Cleanup on this machine is not nearly as hard as I expected it to be, and a good basting brush seems to work well to dust it off. Sure, you might need something to pick dough out of the pasta cutters, but once this dries, that would be a piece of cake. Regardless, I would not use water to clean this machine.
The red color on this machine is a nice touch, even though we do not have any red in our kitchen. It seems to be a tough, scratch resistant coating, and it looks nice.
At the end of the day, I love this piece, and I think it is a great item to have in any kitchen. Why settle for dried pasta again?
Coming soon: review of the ravioli attachment that Zelda got me as well! I can't wait!

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