Fresh Pasta and My Chitarra

I was not planning a post on making homemade macaroni because it is boring and unoriginal. I couldn’t resist after using my chitarra macaroni cutter last night.

A chitarra (pronounced key-tahr-rah and translated to mean guitar) is a wooden box, with wire guitar like strings, which are secured from end to end. It is believed that the chitarra was invented in Abruzzi Italy around the 1800’s. My chitarra was brought all the way from L’Aquila, Italy, by a friend. It is an amazingly simple invention of pure genius! Sheets of fresh macaroni are laid across the top of the strings and rolled with a rolling pin. The strings cut through the dough and perfect strands of linguini fall to the bottom of the box. You tilt the box and the cut macaroni drops onto your table top! It is so easy and perfect if you are craving a bowl of homemade macaroni without having to attach anything to the counter or your Kitchen Aid mixer. It is also very fascinating for kids to watch and safe enough for them to help.

I got out my Cremaldi Cookbook (Doubleday, 1988) and made a batch of fresh macaroni.  I wasn’t going to be using any machinery to roll and cut the pasta, so I decided to make the dough using just my countertop and a fork. The old fashioned well method.
I used just plain old unbleached flour, but you could substitute semolina. I made the well big enough to accomodate the 4 eggs in the recipe. I held my breath because I thought it would over flow, but I just used my fork to push the flour back and the last egg fit into the well. I  scrambled the eggs with my fork and then gradually started to pull in the flour from my well walls.
Once I got to a point that it looked more like dough than scrambled eggs I switched out my fork for a pastry scraper. I didn’t want to get my hands too covered with mucky dough because the girls were around. I never know when I will hear a blood curdling scream and have to drop everything to…turn the TV channel…or fetch a sippy cup that rolled under the couch…or pick up a screaming Iris who just got her fingers twisted because she touched the blue crayon. By using the scraper I can keep at least one of my hands relatively clean. When the majority of the flour is incorporated in, use your hands to give the dough a few minutes of good kneading

  Then form a ball. Wrap the ball in Saran Wrap© and put in the fridge while you clean up your work space for the next step. Keep any extra flour you will need it when you start to roll out the dough.

I cut the dough in quarters and floured my work surface with a generous amount of flour. I also floured my rolling pin. The dough is VERY soft. I thought it might be too soft for the chitarra. I was pleasantly surprised that it WORKED BEAUTIFULLY! Roll the dough out to the thickness that you like. I like my macaroni on the thick side but not super thick.
NOW if you do not have a chitarra or it hasn’t arrived in the mail and you are dying for macaroni than at this point you can also cut the sheets by hand. You take a sheet of dough and roll it into a jelly roll.
From there you take a knife and cut strips as thick or thin as you would like. If you want Pappardelle then cut the strips wide. If you want Spaghetti than do your best to cut the strips thin. Once your strips are cut then unroll them and give them a good flouring. Be careful to not pile them because they might stick. I always have a floured sheet pan close by and as I unroll I flour and lay them out giving them lots of space on the tray.
I used my chitarra!
ISN’T THAT AMAZING!!!!
I rub my fingertips along the strings to finish getting the macaroni to fall through. It is so beautiful.
How about some sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and olive oil mixed in! Or try the Cremaldi Cookbook 15 minute Tomato Sauce recipe!
The Cremaldi Cookbook Basic Homemade Macaroni (p. 23)
makes 1-1 1/2 lbs
2 1/2 cups flour
4 eggs

3 Comments

  1. Brett

    Excellent! Of course you also need to keep at least one hand clean to operate your camera. Please post your favorite broccoli rabe recipe sometime as a sause for the linguini (or as a side dish?). I have a friend who makes broccoli rabe two or three times a week. I'd love to make your recipe for him.

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