Homemade tagliatelle served with Sunday gravy and freshly grated pecorino is a traditional dish served in many, many Italian homes. And now, Italian or not, you can try your hand at mixing and rolling your own tender noodles. Nonna will be so proud.
As the youngest kid in my family, I’d often be sent next door to my grandmother Rosie Bova to help her make the homemades (really, she was just babysitting me). “Homemades” is slang for homemade pasta. Specifically, the shape of homemades most closely resembles tagliatelle, from the Italian verb tagliare, “to cut.” My grandmother and I would mix, roll, and cut the homemades on a pasta maker. Then she’d leave them to dry by draping the fresh homemades over a broomstick held up between two chairs in the dining room. They would be served with her Sunday gravy and finished with freshly grated pecorino cheese.
When I was a small boy, we would head over, hand in hand, to Di Bruno Bros. on Ninth Street, and I’d delight in watching them freshly grate the hard cheese on an old cheese grater. Emilio (“Mimi”) would give it to us in a plastic bag with a tie on it. And my grandmother would inevitably haggle for the price (while I’d be stealing olives from a barrel near the counter). I remember feeling very special to be singled out to help her. I know now that it was probably one way for my parents to get me out from underfoot on a busy Sunday, but the whole process of making something from scratch left an indelible mark on my spirit; a sense of confidence and pride emerged from within, which meant a lot more than someone telling me that I did a good job. Excuse me while I wipe my eyes.–Joey Campanaro
CAN I MAKE HOMEMADE TAGLIATELLE AHEAD OF TIME?
Make the tagliatelle as directed and allow them to dry for 30 minutes. Once dry, space them apart in little nests on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place it in your freezer for 3 hours. Once they’re frozen, transfer the hardened nests of homemades to a couple of freezer bags, wrap the bags in aluminum foil, write the date on them with a Sharpie, and return the bags to the freezer where they can stay for up to 2 months.
To cook the frozen tagliatelle, carefully drop the frozen nests in boiling water, one at a time. Give them a gentle stir so that they unfurl. Cook until they float to the top and are al dente when tested, about 4 minutes.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Making homemade pasta is always a rewarding experience and this recipe for homemade tagliatelle doesn't disappoint. The richness of the dough enhanced by a dozen egg yolks allows you to create a pasta that perfectly pairs with a Sunday gravy replete with meats of your choosing whether it be meatballs, Italian sausage, beef braciola, pork spareribs, or all of the above. To make the dish even easier and less time-consuming, a simple marinara sauce would work equally well with this pasta. To do justice to all your hard work in making the pasta, just be sure to use high-quality canned tomatoes, such as D.O.P San Marzano tomatoes.
I used my KitchenAid pasta roller to thin and elongate the dough. The dough is exceptionally easy to work with as long as you keep a bit of flour on the rollers as you pass the dough through whether you are using a manual or electric pasta roller. I try to minimize the amount of flour used to keep the dough as tender as possible, so it’s a bit of a balancing act to use enough flour to allow the dough to run through easily, but not so much to make the dough tough.
For cutting the dough into strips I used a chitarra which is literally a guitar-like instrument that slices the dough into perfectly even strands. I chose the wider side of the chitarra which cut the dough about the width of fettuccine.
To hold and dry the dough before cooking, I used a pasta drying rack rather than the traditional broomstick method. The recipe made 1 1/2 pounds of dough so you can serve quite a few people—5 to 6 as a main course and more as a primo piatto.
This came together quite easily even for a beginner like myself. The richness from the egg yolks and the silky-smooth texture of the dough made it quite easy to work with. Although the semolina flour was optional, I highly recommend it. It added a wonderful added texture besides preventing everything from sticking. I served the homemade tagliatelle with a generous helping of traditional bolognese sauce and some freshly grated Parmigiana-Reggiano. I'll no longer be intimidated by making pasta dough. If you've tried and failed in the past, forget it. Try this.
Originally published May 06, 2021