Marc Vetri is the chef and founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants. He was just nominated for a James Beard award for Outstanding Chef. In this excerpt from his third cookbook, Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto, he explains how he makes the classic, versatile egg yolk pasta dough. The book, cowritten with David Joachin and published by Ten Speed Press, is available now.
Here’s my basic fresh pasta dough. I do riffs on this recipe for most of the pasta dishes in this book. It uses a 3 to 1 ratio (by weight) of tipo 00 flour to durum flour. The durum flour gives the dough extra strength and chew. The egg yolks make it rich and tender. For the riffs, I change out the flours or eggs or add other ingredients to achieve different tastes and textures. This recipe makes enough for about 4 sheets of pasta that are 5 to 6 inches wide, each 4 to 5 feet long if rolled to 1/32-inch thickness; 3 to 4 feet long if rolled to 1/16-inch thickness; and 2 to 3 feet long if rolled to 1/8-inch thickness. That’s enough to make about 80 four-inch squares for cannelloni or lasagna, 95 two-inch squares for ravioli, or 150 one-inch squares for small ravioli.
EGG YOLK DOUGH
• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. (170 g) tipo 00 flour, or 1¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. (170 g) all-purpose flour, plus some for dusting
• 7 tbsp. (55 g) durum flour
• 9 egg yolks
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 tbsp. water, plus more as needed
Combine both flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or mix together the flours on a work surface and make a well in the center. On medium speed, or with your fingers, add the egg yolks, oil, and water, adding them one ingredient at a time and mixing just until the dough comes together, 2 to 3 minutes. If necessary, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, for the dough to come together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it until it feels silky and smooth, about 5 minutes, kneading in a little tipo 00 flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. The dough is ready if when you stretch it with your hands, it gently pulls back into place.
Shape the dough into a ball then flatten the ball into a disk. Cover the dough and set it aside for at least 30 minutes or wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. You can also freeze the dough for up to 3 months. (Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator before using it. Alternatively, thaw it quickly in a microwave oven on 50 percent power in 5-second increments, just until cool to the touch.)
To roll out the dough, cut it into four equal pieces. If you have a very long work surface, you can cut the dough into fewer pieces. Let the pieces sit, covered, at room temperature for 10 minutes if chilled. The dough should be cool but not cold. Shape each piece into an oval wide enough to fit the width of your pasta roller. Lightly flour your work surface and set the pasta roller to its widest setting. Lightly flour one piece of dough, pass it through the roller, and then lightly dust the rolled dough with flour, brushing off the excess with your hands. Pass the dusted dough through the widest setting again. Set the roller to the next narrowest setting and pass the dough through, dusting again with flour and brushing off the excess. Pass once again through the roller. Fold the dough in half lengthwise over itself and cut about ¼ inch off both corners at the fold. This folding and cutting helps to create an evenly wide sheet of dough. Continue passing the dough once or twice through each progressively narrower setting. For thicker pasta like corzetti, chitarra, pappardelle, fettuccine, and tagliatelle, you want to roll the dough about 1/8-inch-thick setting 2 or 3 on a KitchenAid attachment—or about as thick as a thick cotton bedsheet. For sheet pastas like lasagna and cannelloni, you want to roll it a little thinner, just under 1/8 inch thick, and for rotolo thinner still, about 1/16-inch-thick setting 4 or 5 on a KitchenAid attachment, or about as thick as a thin cotton bedsheet. For ravioli, you want to roll the pasta a little thinner, to about 1⁄32 inch thick or setting 6 or 7 on a KitchenAid; ravioli sheets should generally be thin enough to read a newspaper through. As you roll and each sheet gets longer and more delicate, drape the sheet over the backs of your hands to easily feed it through the roller. You should end up with a sheet 2 to 5 feet long, 5 to 6 inches wide, and 1/8 to 1/32 inch thick, depending on your roller and the pasta you are making.
To cut the pasta sheet into the pasta shape for the dish you are making, lay it on a lightly floured work surface and use a cutting wheel or knife, or the cutter attachment on the pasta machine. If you want to hold the pasta after cutting it, dust it with flour, cover it, and refrigerate it for a few hours, or freeze it in a single layer, transfer the frozen pasta to a zipper-lock bag, and freeze it for up to 1 month. Take the pasta straight from the freezer to the boiling pasta water. That’s what I usually do.