Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Maccheroni al Ferro with Ragù alla Bolognese

Inspired by this recipe for handmade Maccheroni al Ferro by Toronto chef Massimo Bruno, I have made this easy and delicious pasta many times after discovering the website of this talented chef and teacher last year. 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 to 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! Served with this classic Ragù alla Bolognese recipe by Mario Batali, the sauce is made with a delicious combination of sautéed vegetables, veal, pork and pancetta which are slow-cooked with milk, white wine and just a hint of tomato paste — a light and delicious sauce for my little pillows of loveliness "e tutto fatto a mano"!

Three simple ingredients: semolina flour, warm water and olive oil

Using a fork, the mixture is blended until it holds together 

The dough is the kneaded for 15-20 minutes until smooth

The dough is cut into six pieces and rolled into long ropes

The dough is cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Using a chopstick, the dough is rolled into 'ferro' and placed on a parchment lined baking sheet

A traditional Ragù alla Bolognese

Maccheroni al Ferro with Ragù alla Bolognese
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

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 ribs of celery, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
4 oz pancetta, ground or finely diced
6 oz tomato paste
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup parley leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

In a 6 to 8-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat to start the ragù. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent and soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the veal, pork, and pancetta and stir into the vegetables. Add the meat over high heat, stirring to keep the meat from sticking together until browned. Add the tomato paste, milk, and wine and simmer over medium-low heat for 60-90 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and keep warm until ready to serve. The sauce can also be stored in an airtight container for 1 week in the fridge or frozen for up to 6 months.

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. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer the pasta with any pasta water that's attached, to an appropriate amount of hot Ragù Bolognese, and toss so that the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce. Serve garnished with some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprig or two of fresh thyme for pizzazz.

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