Monday, April 11, 2016

Maccheroni al Ferro with Porcini & Sausage Ragù

Inspired by a recipe for handmade Maccheroni al Ferro by Toronto chef Massimo Bruno, and excited about an upcoming trip to Umbria in a few weeks, trying our hand at making some pasta 'fatto a mano' seemed like it would be good practice for our 'vacanza italiana'. Ferri means 'irons' and refers to the thin metal rod around which small pieces of dough are rolled in order to create this unique shape of pasta. Originating from the southern Calabrian region of Italy, Maccheroni al Ferro is made using semola di grano duro rimaninata, a remilled durum wheat semolina, mixed with a little warm water and olive oil then kneaded until smooth and elastic, a process which takes about 15-20 minutes. Cut into five or six smaller pieces, the dough is hand rolled into long snake-like coils then sliced into 1/2 to 1-inch long pieces, then shaped into maccherone using a wooden or metal skewer. One places the skewer on the centre of each piece of dough, and pressing it lightly to make it stable, one then starts rolling the dough to make a cylinder. Removing them carefully, the pasta are laid onto a parchment lined baking sheet until all the maccherone are complete. If one or two don't work out, simply roll them back into a small ball and try again. They don't need to be perfect, just made with love! Other pasta shapes could also be made using this recipe such as strascinati and orecchiette and served with this gorgeous Porcini Mushroom, Sausage & 'Nduja Ragù — deliziosa!

Semola Di Grano Duro Rimaninata - remilled durum wheat semolina

One ounce of dried porcini mushrooms soaking in warm water

One cup of flour with 1/2 cup warm water and tablespoon of olive oil

Using a fork, the flour mixture is whisked until it balls up, then it is shaped into a ball

The dough is then stretched and kneaded until very soft and elastic, about 10-20 minutes
(my husband took over the kneading "to show me how it is done"!)

The finished kneaded dough is soft and smooth, then sliced into 5-6 pieces

Each piece of dough is hand-rolled out into thin cigarette-thick cylinders then sprinkled with flour to prevent the dough from sticking together  

The pasta is then cut up into 1/2-inch pieces, then using a wooden skewer, 
the pasta is gently rolled into small 'maccheroni ai ferri'

After about 20 minutes the maccheroni have all been rolled out and placed on a parchment lined baking sheet to dry while the sauce is started

Garlic and chopped parsley stems are sautéed in a little olive oil until fragrant, 
then the squeeze dried porcini mushrooms are added to the pan

'Nduja, a spicy Calabrian salumi, is one of the special ingredients in the pasta sauce

Pork sausage and 'nduja are then added and sautéed until the meat has browned and is cooked through

Tomato paste is added once the sausage is cooked though, followed by some white wine, 
chopped parsley then 1/2 cup of the porcini broth

The pasta is cooked in boiling water until the maccheroni all float to the top, 
then are added to the sauce along with any pasta water that clings onto the noodles

The pan is removed from the heat and the pasta is sprinkled with a cup of grated parmigiana 
and some chopped parsley for garnish

Maccheroni al Ferro with Porcini Mushroom & Sausage Ragù

Serves 2-4

1 cup Semola Di Grano Duro Rimaninata (remilled durum wheat semolina)
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Sea salt, for adding to boiling the pasta


3/4 cup white wine 
1 tbsp tomato paste 
2 fresh pork sausages, removed from the casing 
2 tbsp ‘nduja - Olliffe Butcher Shop, Toronto
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms 
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, washed and dried
1/2 cup grated Parmigiana 
Extra virgin olive oil 

Place the flour in a large bowl and make a hole in the centre. Pour in some warm water and olive oil and mix together slowly with a fork until the dough comes together, is no longer sticky and becomes hard to mix with the fork. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a clean surface. Massage the dough by pulling and stretching it out until it becomes soft, smooth and elastic, about 10-20 minutes. Slice into 6 pieces and using your hands, roll each piece into long snake-like cylinders about the thickness of a cigarette. Once all the dough has been rolled out, sprinkle some semolina onto a clean surface, and coat all of the pasta so it won't stick together. Slice each roll into 1/2" pieces. Using a 'ferri' or thin wooden skewer, place it in the middle of each small piece of dough, and using a little pressure, roll the rod back and forth until the dough is wrapped completely around the rod, then slide the pasta off and arrange on a parchment lined baking tray in a single layer, and dust with some flour to keep the past from sticking together if necessary. The pasta doesn’t need to dry for long and can be thrown into boiling water shortly after being made and will be finished cooking in a few short minutes when they float to the top of the water.

Alternately, the pasta can be dried more completely and stored in baggies in the freezer for later use — place the trays of pasta, arranged in single layers, in the freezer for a few minutes before putting them in bags to keep them from sticking together.

To make the ragù, begin by placing the dried mushrooms in a cup of warm water and allow to to soak for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile finely chop the garlic and the stems of 3 or 4 pieces of parsley. Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a sauté pan placed over medium heat, then add the garlic and a teaspoon of finely chopped parsley stems and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Using your hands remove the mushrooms from the water, squeezing out as much water as possible, and add them to the pan. Once they've browned 2 or 3 minutes, add the sausage meat and using a wooden spoon, break it up so it browns evenly. Scoop out some of the ‘nduja and add to the pan along with the tomato paste. Cook while stirring for about 5 minutes so the sauce comes together. Add the wine and some chopped parsley. Then add 1/2 cup of the porcini broth avoiding any gritty sediment on the bottom from the mushrooms. Add a tablespoon or two of minced parsley. 

While the sauce is coking, add the fresh pasta a pot of boiling water and cook for only about 5 minutes — the pasta will be done when it float to the top. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta, along with any pasta water that's attached, to the sauce. Using a wooden spoon, gently toss the pasta and sauce so the mixture becomes well incorporated. At the end, remove the pasta from the heat and add the cheese, and mix in. Finish with some roughly chopped parsley and serve.