When you are done rolling, you get this:
You look at garganelli and you think: penne rigate. There are a few differences between the two pasta shapes. In particular, in garganelli the ridges are perpendicular, rather than parallel, to the length, and there is a visible seam. A link tweeted recently by Frank of Memorie di Angelina sent me to an article on garganelli. As soon as I finished reading it, I started planning my rendition.
According to the Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini De Vita, this pasta shape is typical of Emilia-Romagna (like the strozzapreti I featured recently), but it can also be found in Marche and Umbria. The name comes from the dialectal word garganel, chicken's gullet "which the ridged garganello resembles." I am not familiar with the dialects of Emilia-Romagna, but in Italian there is the expression bere a garganella, which means to drink without placing the rim of the vessel on your lips, but letting the liquid drop straight into your mouth.
Zanini De Vita's entry for garganelli is interesting to read in its entirety, in particular because it shows an image of the pettine (comb), the tool traditionally used to make them. They are indeed also known as maccheroni al pettine. I don't have a pettine, but browsing around the web, I saw that the tool sold as garganelli board, to be used in lieu of a pettine, is basically a gnocchi board with a mini rolling pin.
I already had a gnocchi board, so I asked for my husband's help in crafting the mini rolling pin. "We need a dowel," he said. I am used to going to the hardware store to ask for things that are made for one job, while I will be using them for a totally different one. I did not do my homework with the necessary care (see later), so I asked for a 1/2-inch diameter dowel (photo above). The dowel he got me was too long, but a small saw took care of that detail and voilà, I had my mini rolling pin.
I then turned my attention to the logistics of shaping garganelli. The recipes I read for the dough were all over the place: the only common trait was the use of eggs. Most importantly, the recipes did not address my main question: how do you prevent garganelli from flattening?
I decided to use my regular egg dough, which has a certain amount of body due to the presence of semolina and durum flour in the mix. It all went smoothly and I had a lot of fun shaping the garganelli. But then, what I was dreading, happened: my beautiful tubular garganelli slowly flattened while drying. Of course, they were still edible.
For my second attempt, I let the pasta dry somewhat between the rolling and the shaping, so that it would be stiffer. It worked: My garganelli kept their pretty shape until I plopped them into boiling water, over an hour after they I had rolled them.
Then, in a grocery store in Oakland, I happened upon dry garganelli and noticed that their diameter was smaller than that of my homemade garganelli. I went home and did a bit more research. The most influential source of information I found is a post that includes a .gif image showing the shaping of a garganello using the thicker end of a chopstick. After reading the post, I got two more dowels: one 3/8-inch and the other 1/4-inch (6 mm) in diameter and again cut a piece from each, about 8 inches (20 cm) long. I then made garganelli using both and in the end concurred with Yuko of Cuisinivity that using a small-diameter mini rolling pin is better. The garganelli made with the 1/4-inch diameter mini rolling pin are less tricky to handle and keep their lovely shape better.
Here are my hands making garganelli:
I follow Yuko's lead in somewhat marking the pasta square by lightly passing the rolling pin over it first. My addition is that when I do the actual roll, I use the side of the board closest to me to direct the rolling action (see where my thumbs are in the video).
As in other pasta shapes I make, the hands move with a balance between not enough pressure, which in this case would make a garganello without ridges and not properly sealed, and too much pressure, which would make the dough square stick to the board or to the rolling pin.
I have made several batches of garganelli by now, to test the variations described above, and dressed them alternatively with burro e parmigiano and with mashed avocado (I am using avocado in many dishes these days). A Note about cheese: I am submitting the recipe below to a vegetarian event and therefore I am leaving the kind of cheese unspecified. Cheese may be made with calf rennet, for example Parmigiano-Reggiano, or non-animal rennet, so the vegetarian needs to choose accordingly.
The following ingredients yield two small portions. Once you become conversant with the shaping action, double them or more, depending on how many people there are around the table and the rest of the menu.
- 1 extra-large egg
- 80 g (a teaspoon less than 3 oz.) King Arthur Flour's pasta blend, plus more as needed to obtain the dough
- A pinch of salt
- All-purpose flour, as needed, for rolling and shaping
- Half a ripe avocado
- Freshly grated cheese of choice, to taste (see Note above)
Make a dough using the first three ingredients. Add more pasta flour as needed to get a supple dough. Cover the dough and let rest for 1/2-1 hour.
Roll the dough by hand or with a machine into one of more thin sheets (on my machine, I roll to the last thickness level; I roll the dough twice at each level and once at the last level), flouring lightly as needed (with all-purpose flour) to prevent sticking. Cut the pasta into squares of 4 cm / 1.5 inch side and let rest briefly, while you knead, roll and cut the odd-shaped cutouts.
Starting from the squares you cut first, shape each one into a garganello (see the video above for reference). Place a square diagonally on the board, then lightly roll the mini rolling pin over it in the direction away from you. Hook the corner closest to the board handle on the mini rolling pin and roll towards you, applying a light pressure to imprint the ridges on the outer surface and to seal the garganello. Flour the board and the mini rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking. Place the shaped garganelli on a lightly floured tray.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add some coarse salt, stir and then add the pasta. Bring water back to boiling. Cooking time depends on flour used and thickness of pasta, but it is in the order of a few minutes, so don't wander away, but pay undivided attention.
Since the pasta takes only a short time to cook, prepare the dressing as the water comes to a boil. Put the avocado in a bowl and mash it with a fork to make a cream.
When the pasta is ready, turn off the heat, pour a glass of cold water in the pot, stir and then drain the pasta, leaving a bit of water clinging to it. Toss pasta and mashed avocado, sprinkle grated cheese on it and toss some more. Serve immediately.
This is my contribution to the first edition of Pasta Please, a new pasta-centric event created by Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and hosted this month by the creator herself. The theme this month is: cheese.
This post contains the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the garganelli audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]