Sunday, October 2, 2016

How to Make Roman Style Macaroni

From Martino of Cuomo's Art of Cooking, c1500:

Take some white flour, and add water and make a sheet of pasta slightly thicker than that for lasagne, and wrap it around a stick; and then remove the stick and cut the pasta into pieces the size of your little finger, and they end up with the shape of thin strips or strings. Cook in fatty broth or in water, depending on the season. But they need to be boiled when you cook them. If you cook them in water, add some fresh butter and a bit of salt. When they are done, place on a platter with some good cheese, and butter, and sweet spices.

My Redaction:

3 cups flour
2 + 1 T butter
1.5 C grated parmesan
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 qt beef stock

Sift 2 cups flour and a large pinch of salt, and mix 1 cup water gradually into it while stirring vigorously. Add flour as needed to form a kneadable dough, then work until somewhat elastic. Let sit for about 30 minutes, then knead again and divide into two balls. If you have a pasta machine, work each through the machine a couple of times until smooth and then reduce to a #3 thickness; if not, divide each ball in half again and roll into strips perhaps 6-7" wide and 1/12-1/16" thick.

Take a thin wood or bamboo skewer and roll the end of a pasta strip around it so it forms a tube. Cut the tube off the rest of the pasta with a sharp knife, pinch closed along the seam, and ease the tube off of the stick. Cut into 1" lengths of macaroni and set aside, avoiding piling the noodles on top of each other to prevent clumping. Repeat rolling and cutting process down the length of pasta strips.Boil the formed pasta in 1 quart beef stock and 1 quart water, with 1 tablespoon of butter and a large pinch of salt added, for 10 minutes or until al dente consistency. Drain, and serve with remaining butter, parmesan, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.


The forming of macaroni in this way is quite laborious, and makes it appear much more of a luxury item than, say, lasagne would have been, based on the effort involved. I only made macaroni with about 1/3 of the dough before turning the rest of it into fettuccini in the pasta machine.