After discovering the gastronomic delights of squid ink paella I really wanted to branch out and try squid ink pasta but the learning curve for making my own pasta seemed too daunting. Luckily for me (and unfortunately for my waistline), ChgoJohn at from the Bartolini kitchens not only has a foolproof pasta dough recipe with a consistent liquid volume but also a very clear and easy to follow pasta machine tutorial for the pasta machine naïve among us. After successfully making sweetly briny squid ink fettuccine on my first try, I’m fairly certain that he could even teach
the hubster a monkey how to make perfect capellini 😉 But seriously, if you haven’t discovered his delicious rustic Italian blog full of family recipes and charming anecdotes you’ll be pleasantly surprised and wondering how much more quality time you’ll need to spend with your rowing machine to continue enjoying your newly found recipes.
One of the things I was expecting going into this obsidian pasta adventure was
tears and cursing sticky black dough and a good upper body workout but what was surprising was the aroma of fresh seafood, like someone had just cooked some juicy prawns or mussels, wafting throughout the kitchen. All that just from 1 tablespoon of squid ink. So, what type of sauce would complement such a striking and seafood laden pasta? How about a spicy marinara that’s so molten it literally translates to “brother devil?” Apparently Fra Diavolo is an Italian-American invention originally made with lobster although it’s also commonly made with shrimp as well which makes sense cuz the tangy tomato sauce with fiery spice really highlights those sweet, tender crustaceans. And when you soak it into briny, slightly sweet Stygian squid ink fettuccine you’ve got a combination made in gastronomic heaven. In fact, my mouth is pooling with saliva while remembering all those beautifully matched flavors. [slurp!] And if you’re concerned about the ecological and biodiversity impact of your shrimp, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood watch list for a clear and concise look at which choices are better than others 🙂
In my defense your Honor…
1) I opted to make the pasta dough with my stand mixer and dough hook attachment instead of starting out with the food processor per ChgoJohn’s recipe as I wasn’t sure how the squid ink would interact with the dough and hoped to be able to keep a better eye on it with the dough hook. In retrospect, I suspect that either method will work out fine.
2) I’m also too disorganized to remember to let my eggs warm up at room temp for half an hour so I cheat and let them sit in a large mixing bowl full of hot tap water for 10 minutes instead. Mea culpa.
Squid Ink Fettuccine
2 3/4 – 3 c all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, warmed to room temp for 30 minutes or the hot tap water cheater’s method described above
1 tbsp squid ink
1/8 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Combine eggs and squid ink in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough lukewarm water to increase volume to 1 c.
Add 2 1/2 c flour, egg mixture, and olive oil to stand mixer with dough hook attachment. Mix on low setting till the flour is incorporated. Add additional flour, 1-2 tbsp at a time till the dough is elastic and slightly tacky but it shouldn’t stick to your fingers. I ended up using 2 3/4 c flour and kneading for about 15-20 minutes on the dough hook. Since squid ink can stain, use a cutting board you won’t mind turning a bit darker if kneading by hand or your stand mixer like I did. Cover in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes. If you can’t start rolling your pasta after an hour, refrigerate it while you do your multitasking and pull it out to warm up for 30 minutes before you’re ready to work with it.
Cut off a piece of dough the size of a large egg and stretch it out with your hands so it creates a square-ish shape. Run through your pasta rollers at the widest setting (1 if you have a Marcato Atlas 150), it will create an quadrangle shape.
Lightly sprinkle with a little a pinch of flour and fold the dough in half along the long axis. Run through the rollers again and repeat for a total of three passes at the widest setting. You shouldn’t need additional flour after the first pass otherwise your dough is likely too sticky and should have some more flour kneaded into it (back to the dough hook!). Repeat with as many pasta eggs as you think you’ll need but make sure to cover the dough with a well wrung out damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out while you’re getting your upper body workout. Since this recipe makes 1.5 lbs of dough, 1/2 of the dough is enough for 4 servings so you can either keep the other half in the refrigerator to be made later or make everything at once and air dry the pasta you don’t cook. Once you’ve run as many pasta eggs as you want to use through the widest setting, run them through the next setting (number 2) and keep on till your pasta is as thin as you like it. I ended up stopping at 6.
Hang the pasta to dry for a bit so that it’s dry enough to be cut by the cutter attachments. It should feel flexible and supple but not tacky. If your pasta has become too dry and feels brittle just pop it under a damp (not wet) kitchen towel and try again. In humid Portlandia, my sheets only had to dry for 7-10 minutes before I could start cutting them. When you’re ready to cut your pasta, shorten any sheets longer than 10 inches to 10 inches then roll it through the cutters. This makes for easier cutting and eating, unless you want to reenact any canine Disney cartoons. If you’re not ready to boil your pasta right away, either hang it to air dry on your pasta rack or if using later that night, you can make it into a little bird’s nest and cover with a barely damp towel.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb jumbo shrimp (16-20 count)
Sea salt and crushed red pepper
1/4 c dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 medium-sized sweet onion, finely diced
3 tsp (6 cloves) crushed garlic
1/2-1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, depending on how
much you enjoy crying spicy you like it
14.5-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley leaves + additional for garnish ~1 tsp
Shell the shrimp, keeping the shells to make a simple shrimp “stock.” Devein the shrimp then season with sea salt and crushed red pepper.
In a small saucepan, simmer shells with 1 c water for 10 minutes. Strain out shells and set aside shrimp stock.
In a large sauté pan or large skillet with a deep lip heat olive oil on med-hi heat till aromatic but not smoking. Sauté shrimp till opaque halfway up then flip and cook on the other side ~2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside. Deglaze pan with wine and add onion, garlic, and 1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper. Sauté till onion is translucent and soft ~5-7 minutes. This step also allows the capsaicin from the pepper to be released giving you your “fiery brother.” Stir in shrimp stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, and parsley then briskly simmer till volume is reduced by 1/2 ~10-5 minutes. Return shrimp and any accumulated juices to sauce and remove from heat if not ready to finish the pasta in the sauce.
While onion is sautéing, boil salted water in a large ~5-6 quart pot. Boil fettuccine for ~1-2 minutes. Reserve 1 c pasta water and drain pasta.
Finish pasta in the Fra Diavolo sauce, simmering for another 1-2 minutes to let it soak up that spicy, tangy sauce. Add 2 tbsp pasta water if your sauce is too dry and keep adjusting until you get the consistency you like. This is a “drier” sauce and coats the fettuccine really well so I usually don’t need to add any pasta water. Makes 4 servings and 4 ChgoJohn acolytes, crying optional.
**This nutritional estimate is for 1 serving and doesn’t include the squid ink which per the label has no calories or fat but does contain 170 mg sodium per tablespoon.