Chef Michael Tusk of Quince and Cotogna is a master of pasta. We had the privilege of attending his pasta demo at this year’s Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest in Carmel. As an aside, Tusk is also very fashion conscious and shares our love for Lanvin sneakers and beautiful watches, but we digress…Read on for his pro tips on how to make professional handmade pasta at home.
The type of flour is important. For this pasta, which you can either roll by hand or through a mechanical roller, you need Italian “00” flour. We buy this one because it’s always worked reliably for us.
Tusk demonstrated the process of rolling out the dough by hand, using a traditional mattarello (essentially a long rolling pin). It’s a workout, but it’s amazing to watch as the dough repeatedly stretches and expands as its rolled around itself, ultimately yielding a large, thin sheet. This is the same process used by experienced women in the traditional pastifici of Bologna.
The pasta sheet can then be cut and formed into filled pastas (in Bologna, especially Tortelloni and Tortellini, which is smaller), or folded and cut into Pappardelle or Tagliatelle.
Most people don’t have a mattarello, so our recommendation would be to use pasta rollers. The KitchenAid attachment is made in Italy and works extremely well, so that would be our suggestion. There are also hand-crank models, but the benefit of the mixer attachment is that you keep both hands free to work with the dough.
A few more pasta tips: While this dough is perfect for rolled pastas that are shaped by cutting or by hand, it is not appropriate for extruded pastas like Spaghetti, Bucatini, Penne, etc. Extruded pasta dough is made with only semolina and water (one major exception to this is Bigoli, which is from the Veneto and extruded using a torchio), and is very crumbly. Most extruded pastas are later dried, and the best dried pasta is dried slower and at low temperatures, so look for that on the packaging. It’s usually stated prominently on the front label. The full directions for Tusk’s pasta are below. The dough would be the perfect base for this Tagliatelle, this easy Lemon Pasta, or this Mushroom Pappardelle.
Thank you to Relais & Châteaux for hosting us at this special demo and lunch with Chef Michel Tusk.
- 500 grams of Italian "00" flour
- 5 fresh eggs
- Use 100 grams of flour per whole egg. For this demonstration, Tusk used 500 grams of flour and 5 eggs. To make the dough, mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well in the middle, about the size of your fist. Crack the eggs into the well, then using a fork, begin carefully mixing small amounts of flour into the egg, working around the circumference of the well. Be careful not to break the side of the mound, or your eggs will leak out.
- As the flour is incorporated, the eggs will start to look like loose scrambled eggs. Continue incorporating flour until it forms a crumbly dough, then push aside any excess flour. Depending on the humidity in the air and the size of the eggs, you may not need all of the flour.
- Knead the dough by hand for 20 minutes. If you feel egg on your hand or if the dough sticks to the board, sprinkle with more flour. Once the dough is smooth and stiff, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for one hour before shaping.