Homemade everything. That was our goal. And, if possible, buy it from a NJ source. On the menu: sausage, pasta, sauce and bread.
Well, locally-made olive oil and flour are hard to come by but we did pretty well otherwise. We hit the Montclair Farmers Market on Saturday morning. We picked up eggs, pork and beef from Sussex County’s Glenmalure Farm and got organic basil, crimini and portabello mushrooms, onion, garlic and eggplant from Circle Brook Farm (formerly called Starbrite Farm and where we used to get CSA veggies and we harvested garlic a few years ago). Then, we headed to Fairway Market in Woodland Park for flour, olive oil, pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. We realize Jersey tomatoes would have been prudent but we were working from YDKJ Mike’s Nonna’s recipe which calls for puree and paste so we had to bend our rules for that one. You don’t mess with an Italian grandma’s recipe for tomato sauce.
With ingredients in place, we started by making bread dough. We were working from a master bread recipe from Jeff Hertzberg’s cookbook The New Artisan Bread in Five a Minutes a Day. This bread could not have been simpler to make and more delicious. You should check out this whole book of easy breads.
Next, we made sausage with pork cubes, red wine, garlic and lots of spices (sage, thyme, salt, chili flakes, powdered ginger, tarragon and coriander seeds).
My Kitchenaid attachment collection includes a meat grinder so I got to use it for the first time. The mixer didn’t like the silver skin that got left on a few pieces of pork but after cleaning off the grinding plates a few times, the meat was all ground up and mixed together a little to make sure the spices and garlic were evenly distributed.
We browned all the sausage meat and also the ground beef separately while Mike chopped up veggies and got them browning in another pot.
Pretty soon, once everything was browned, we added the tomatoes to the big pot and got the sauce going.
The only thing left to do was bake the bread and make the pasta. The bread came out looking great even though our two loaves ended up merged into a mega-bread.
The pasta dough recipe came from food.com and was very easy to make. Half semolina flour and half AP flour with some salt went into the dry ingredients bowl and eggs, olive oil and water went into the wet bowl. Half the dry with all the wet got combined and then the rest of the dry added in 20 seconds. Then, we used the dough hook for a few minutes and kneaded by hand for a few minutes. It rested in the refrigerator for a while and then came out to warm up a little before we started rolling it out.
We borrowed the pasta-making attachments for the Kitchenaid from my friend Jeff and they worked great. First we rolled out small sheets for all the pasta.
Then, we cut half the sheets into fettuccine.
And, used the rest of the sausage we made for into sausage ravioli with the other sheets of pasta. I enjoyed the whole day but making ravioli was the best past for me. I liked the precision of it and how pretty they looked for homemade stuff.
Once the pasta was drying for a little bit, we started the boiling water and cleaned off the table to get ready to eat.
The only thing left was to cook the pasta for six minutes and grate the Pecorino Romano from Fairway.
It is not an understatement to say that this was the best pasta meal we’ve ever had. We recently tried some fresh pasta from a place in New York and were unimpressed. It made me nervous about our planned venture in pasta-making. But, all my fears were allayed once I tasted that fettuccine.
The pasta was spongy but not gummy. It soaked up lots of the sauce and was very filling. It was basically the best pasta I’ve ever eaten. The sauce was a perfect consistency with lots of chunky veggies and meat but not runny and not a thick mass of red.
The bread was very crunchy on the outside and extremely moist and airy on the inside. It was great with some butter on it and it also sopped up some sauce.
The ravioli was filled with garlic and fresh sausage flavor and didn’t get too soft in the water. I honestly didn’t think we’d get this right on the first time around but we nailed everything we made. How is that possible? Maybe Nonna Pecorini was helping us from afar.
Check out all the pictures from our first Cooking with YDKJ project:
What should we try next?
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