Pellegrino Artusi, Casa Artusi, The Art of Cooking Well in Forlimpopoli & A Recipe for Perfect Pasta Dough (Photo Illustrated)
Pellegrino Artusi is widely referred to as the father of Italian cuisine. Penning the first pan Italian cookbook, (self) published only 20 years after the unification of Italy in 1891 and in the language of the new unified Italy (which was the dialect of Florence), when he was 71.
Artusi’s cookbook, Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, featured over 475 recipes gathered from Italian home cooks on his travels as a business man. 15 editions were published before he died 20 years later, with many further recipes added (finishing with 750).
Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well was predicted to be a commercial failure by Italian publishers at the time, and they refused to publish it, but it was a tremendous success. It has been in print since publication, and is in almost every Italian home. It has been translated into several languages also (it was translated to English in 1997). 200,000 copies were sold in his lifetime and many more in the 103 years since then.
(So, you know, the message being if you believe in something strongly enough, take a risk and make it happen. You never know, do you?)
Casa Artusi is a culinary centre and cooking school dedicated to the memory of Artusi and his work, in his home town of Forlimpopoli. There is a library, featuring many cookbooks, and specifically all editions of his book and all translations. The cooking school teaches several courses, taught by the Mariettas (called after Artusi’s housekeeper Marietta, who tested all of his recipes). I did a pasta class, and I also learned to make a Romagnola piadina in the traditional way on a terracotta stone.
The pasta recipe is very simple, and the same recipe as I use at home, as it happens. (It surely came from Artusi’s kitchen to mine through many others on the way). I am already comfortable making pasta dough, you should be too as it really is just practice, as Artusi himself would say. What I loved about this class was the hands on teaching where I learned how to make new pasta shapes, I am going to go through some of these in details for you in another post.
Thanks to Casa Artusi and the wonderful volunteer Mariettas for teaching me. It was a wonderful experience. Now, here is the pasta dough recipe. Let me know how you get on. Do check back soon for some other pasta shapes and stuffed pasta recipes :)
Pellegrino Artusi’s Pasta Dough Recipe, as taught at Casa Artusi
for two people – multiply as required
100g pasta flour (00 flour)
2 whole eggs
a pinch of good salt
To do this properly, and entirely by hand, you will need a large wooden board, long rolling pin and a pasta wheel, nothing else.
Put the flour in a pile on the board and create a well in the centre. Crack your eggs in here, and using your hand, gently massage the flour into the eggs, bringing in the remaining flour as you do, with your other hand.
When the eggs have absorbed as much flour as they can (this will be affected by humidity etc), and you have a ball of dough, discard the remaining flour.
Use no further flour after this, when rolling or kneading, or you will change the recipe!
Knead the pasta dough, close to your body as it takes less effort, using one hand shaped like a fist and alternately, the other, pushing the dough as you do. Do this until the dough becomes shiny and elastic (takes about 5 minutes). Cover with cling film and leave to rest for half an hour or so.
After resting, roll the dough. Again, closer to your body is easier, rolling away from you as you do, and turning the pasta every now and then. When the pasta is thin enough, it is done.
Do persist! It is so worth it. You can use this dough to make papardelle or tagliatelle by just cutting to the appropriate width. Soon, I will share stuffed pasta recipes and other shapes.