Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dark Days: Meat Grinder Pasta with Pork Ragu

Armed with my new meat grinder, I've been anxious to try this trick I first saw performed by Mario Batali: extruding whole-wheat pasta.

The sauce was a simple pork ragu made with ground pork ($8 for a little more than one pound at the farmers market), diced onions, diced carrots and, in the absence of our own canned tomatoes, a prepared tomato sauce from the farmers market.

As it turned out, the pint jar of sauce I purchased ($4) was only half what I needed. Enter one large can of Cento tomatoes.

What you see on the right in this picture is Hubbard squash ($4 at the farmers market), roasted then mashed with brown sugar, allspice and nutmeg. Quite delicious and a very generous quantity.

Again, I felt a bit stung by the price of the ground pork. By my wife was quick to point out that it made perhaps two quarts of sauce. We'll be freezing some, or eating it for quite a few days to come.

The pasta noodles were another story. The dough is simple enough: 2 cups white whole wheat flour with two eggs, kneaded for about five minutes. My first attempt came out more like spaetzle. I'd forgotten that you need to remove the blade from the grinder. On the next go-round, I removed the blade and increased the size of the die in the grinder. The noodles came out looking like alien space worms only chewier. What I need is a die sized somewhere between the two choices that came with the machine, or around 1/4-inch.

But I was pleased to see daughter gobbling up the whole-wheat pasta (the spaetzle kind) with the pork ragu. "These carrots are delicious," said the little girl who hates cooked carrots. But wait--it's not all cooked carrots she hates, just the big slices that we make as a side dish.

Carrots, apparently, are very complicated.

3 comments: said...

How clever of you to use the meat grinder for other edibles! (Hmm: maybe I can use my ricer for spaetzle.)

Pattie said...

Loving the anecdotes about your daughter! Very cute. See the movie "When Fried Eggs Fly" if you want to immerse yourself in 8-year-olds!

Ed Bruske said...

El, your ricer might work for spaetzle, but the holes are rather small. I remember using a colander once to make spaetzle.

Pattie, thanks much for the tip on the movie. We love watching movies together. Our daughter is a marvel, and the anecdotes just get more interesting as she gets older.