Pici (Or: Handmade Pasta For Idiots)

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For those of you who aspire to make pasta at home but don’t have the time or the will or the resources (like, a pasta machine), here’s a recipe for you. It’s called Pici and it’s one of the more satisfying things I’ve made for dinner in recent memory. You may be thinking: “Adam, didn’t you just post a pasta recipe two days ago?” It’s true; and on this particular week when I made the pici, I’d only had that other pasta dinner three days earlier. But watching David Chang’s Mind Of A Chef on PBS (a pretty excellent show), I started to get a hankering for noodles. In Japan, people eat noodles all the time; why couldn’t I have noodles for dinner a second time in one week? Damn it, I deserve it! Only these noodles–ah, pasta (Michael White yelled at me for calling pasta “noodles” once)–would be handmade and would only take me 15 minutes. Don’t believe me?

Look, I’ll show you. I found the recipe on L.A. Magazine’s site. You start by stirring together 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt:

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Add 1/2 large egg beaten to blend and 1 cup of room temperature water.

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Work that together and knead in the bowl until you have a ball that’s smooth (about 5 minutes).

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Flatten it, rub it with olive oil, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. (Ok, ok, I know I said it would only take 15 minutes but I meant 15 minutes of work. During this part you can go watch TV or something).

While it’s resting, start making your tomato sauce. I sautéed half an onion in olive oil until translucent, then added 3 or 4 cloves of sliced garlic, some chopped thyme and a dash of red pepper flakes.

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To that, add a 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon, turn up the heat and allow to bubble away and reduce while you make your pici.

If you’ve ever played with Play-Dough, you can make pici. All you do is cut the dough in half, then cut that half into strips (about a 1/2-inch wide) and roll each strip into a snake. See?

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Toss the snakes with a little flour on a plate until you’re done.

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There you are: homemade pici.

Now bring a pot of water to a boil with a good amount of salt and drop it in to cook.

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Because it’s handmade, it won’t take very long. After 2 or 3 minutes, lift a piece of pici out with tongs and taste. You want it al dente, but not raw. When it’s just there, lift all of the pici into the pan with the tomato sauce.

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Turn up the heat and toss all around with the tongs.

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Mmmm…I’m drooling just looking at that picture and I’m the one who actually got to eat it. At the very end, drizzle with olive oil and add a handful of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese tossing all around. Then lift with tongs into bowls and sprinkle with even more cheese.

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So now those of you too timid to make homemade pasta have no excuse. This is pici and it’s about to enter your life in a big way.

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