In learning to make maccheroni al ferro, I saw the possibility of using the same simple tool to create another type of pasta shape. Slightly different hand movements result in different shapes. (from this post)
This is what I meant:
Browsing around, I found a video where the hand movements are basically the same as mine: as I suspected, I had made fusilli.
In Italian fusillo means small fuso (spindle). As I have mentioned before, the names of pasta shapes may be a bit confusing. For example, in this video Rosetta Costantino shows how to make Calabrian fusilli, which look like very long maccheroni. I have also seen videos in which fusilli are shaped starting from a rectangle of pasta, rather then a thin rope. I like to do a bit of research to find out where things come from, but when I get entangled in the mesh of local traditions that differ from village to village, I give up. In the end, what counts is having fun with the task at hand.
What's the trick in making fusilli? As I hope you can see from the video above, the piece of dough to make a fusillo is thinner and longer than the one I use to make a maccherone. The dough gets wrapped around the skewer starting at an angle and the hands do not flatten the dough, but rather, roll it slightly to thin the pasta and make the pasta spiral a bit tighter.
The dough I used is the same as described before. What I did differently this time is that I dressed the pasta with a variation of the burro e parmigiano theme, using browned butter (burro nocciola).
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 (I recommend weighing the water)
- a pinch of salt
To dress the pasta:
- 1/2 tablespoon / 7 g browned butter, or to taste
- freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, to taste
Make a dough with the three ingredients and knead until nice and smooth. [This post (with video) talks about how to make semolina pasta dough] Let the dough rest, covered, for at least half an hour.
Roll the dough into a thick salami and cut it into 5-6 pieces. Keep them covered while you shape the fusilli. Roll each piece into a thin snake (1/4 inch / 6 mm thick), then cut into pieces about 2 1/2 inch / 6.5 cm long. Shape each piece into a fusillo with the skewer.
Place a piece of dough on the working surface on a diagonal. Place the skewer at the bottom end of the piece of dough, then roll the skewer away from you until the dough is all wrapped around it. Rock the skewer back and forth a few times while pressing it gently with your hands to the right and left of the rolled dough. Do not press hard or the dough will stick to the skewer. Gently slide the fusillo off the skewer and lay it out to dry on a lightly floured section of the kneading board (or a baking sheet lined with a cotton kitchen towel).
Have at least two skewers ready to work with and exchange them every few pieces of pasta. Insert the skewers into some flour in between uses, so they dry.
Repeat until you have used up the prepared dough. Be very gentle in handling the hollow pasta, as it tends to flatten a bit.
Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then toss the fusilli in it (what in Italian we call: buttare giù la pasta). The time needed is a bit variable, depending on the size of fusilli, how dry they are, etc.
When the fusilli are nearly done, melt the browned butter in a small frying pan.
Taste and stop the cooking when the fusilli are ready. Pour a glass of cold water in the pot, stir and drain the fusilli. Drop the pasta into the pan with the butter. Stir well, then sprinkle some of the cheese and stir some more. Plate and sprinkle a bit more cheese on the top. Serve immediately.
The recipe makes two small portions.
For the current edition of Cook the Books, we are reading Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin (1988). I didn't know this book before I saw it on our reading list and am grateful to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for choosing such a delightful memoir. The style is sparkling, the voice fresh and engaging, and the book is a real pleasure to dive into. If you have not read Home Cooking, I warmly recommend it.
Ms. Colwin shares a number of recipes with her readers, from her take on traditional dishes like Boston Brown Bread, to the result of her experiments in the kitchen, like Polenta and Broccoli di Rape. I'll be totally honest and admit that while I enjoyed reading about the recipes, I had difficulty being inspired by them, as Colwin's style of cooking is quite different from mine.
I know though, that she enjoyed making pasta, because she says so on page 178:
I was once given a pasta machine and instantly set about making pasta. My pasta was not beautiful and it did not emerge from its final rolling in one long, beautiful sheet, but it certainly was delicious and not overly time-consuming.
Ms. Colwin was open to trying new things to decide for herself whether she liked them or not. I am sure she would have been open to learn to make the pasta shapes with which I have been experimenting recently (strascinati, orecchiette, maccheroni al ferro, gnocchetti sardi ), and she would have commented on her experience with the wit she shows throughout Home Cooking. So, to her I dedicate my last adventure in pasta making: fusilli al ferro. And based on the recipes in the book, I know she would have liked the burro e parmigiano dressing.
1 See the post on orecchiette for details on the various types of ground durum wheat.
This is my contribution to the current edition of Cook the Books, hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen. You can find the guidelines for participating in the event here, and here is the announcement. This post contains the roundup of the event.
This is also my contribution to edition #280 of Presto Pasta Nights. The event was created by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast and is hosted this week by Simona of briciole (that would be me). 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 fusilli al ferro 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.]