In my rendition of this pasta, I followed this video and made relatively short maccheroni. I suggest you do the same the first few times, until you become familiar with the process. Then, if you like, you can try making longer maccheroni, as shown in the video included in this post (in Italian).
The dough is basically the same as the one for orecchiette. Instead of just your hands, for maccheroni you need the ferro, a metal spike (you can see it in this photo). However, a thin wooden skewer works as a substitute and it is what I have used.
My hands making maccheroni al ferro are shown in this short video:
The trick, so to speak, is to apply enough pressure on the piece of dough so that it flattens and spreads around the ferro as you roll it, but not so much as to make it stick to the ferro. At the end of the process, you want to be able to slide the maccherone from the ferro without misshaping it (if that happens, you can always re-roll the dough and try again).
It helps to flour the skewer often. I have two of them at hand: while I am using one, the other is inside the flour bag. When the first one becomes a bit sticky, I put it in the flour and take up the other. (In the photo above they are both on the kneading board for demo purposes.)
As I have said in the past, when you decide to try, start with a small amount of flour, so you don't get overwhelmed. Then, when you are comfortable with the process, you can double the amount, or more.
Dress maccheroni with a simple tomato sauce, or try the combination with another sauce you like.
Ingredients for the pasta (I recommend weighing both flour and water because the quantities involved are small):
- 100 g / 3.5 oz. semolina flour of good quality1
- 50 g / 1.75 oz. warm water
- a pinch of salt
Ingredients for the tomato sauce:
- olive oil
- a shallot, minced
- leaves of a sprig of thyme
- a small garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 cups strained roasted tomatoes, thawed if frozen
- sea salt, to taste
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
Make the pasta
Make a dough with the first three ingredients and knead until nice and smooth. [This post (with video) talks about how to make semolina pasta dough] This is a bit of an exercise, since the dough is fairly stiff (you are making pasta, not bread). The dough is of a lovely pale yellow color. Let the dough rest, covered, for at least half an hour.
Roll the dough into a thick salami and cut it into pieces. Keep them covered while you shape the maccheroni. Roll each piece into a pencil-size snake (3/8 inch / 1 cm thick), then cut into 2 inch / 5 cm long pieces (if you are making longer maccheroni, cut the roll into 2 3/4 inch / 7 cm long pieces).
Shape each piece into a maccherone with the skewer. Place the ferro on the center of the piece of dough, press it lightly to make it stable, then start rolling. The first thing that happens is that a cylinder is formed, then the cylinder gets longer.
Lay out to dry. You may want to dust the surface lightly with flour or line it with a cotton kitchen towel.
Make the tomato sauce
In a small saucepan, warm up a bit of olive oil, then add shallot and thyme. Cook gently for a few minutes, then add garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Adjust salt, to taste. Note that this will make more sauce than you need to dress the maccheroni, but once you have the sauce ready, I am sure you'll find ways of using it, like making more handmade pasta.
The final act
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then toss the maccheroni in it (what in Italian we call: buttare giù la pasta). The maccheroni will come to the surface as they cook. The time needed is a bit variable, depending on the type of flour used, the size of maccheroni, how dry they are, etc., but it is short, so don't wander far away from the pot. Taste and stop the cooking when the maccheroni are ready. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot, stir and drain the maccheroni. Place in a bowl, sprinkle a bit of the cheese on top and stir briefly, then distribute some tomato sauce and toss. Finally, sprinkle some cheese and serve immediately.
The recipe makes two small portions.
Note: if tomato season is ongoing in your area, you can make tomato sauce using crushed tomatoes, adjusting the cooking time to get a sauce of the right consistency. And if you have fresh basil, you can add a bit of it to the sauce.
1 See the post on orecchiette for details on the various types of ground durum wheat.
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 maccheroni al ferro al sugo 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.]