Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Use a Cavatelli Maker

Making home made pasta is fun, but if you want to move beyond flat ribbons, you might need a few bits of equipment to make the job easier. Fante's Cousin Elisa's Cavatelli Maker from Harold Import Company ($32.37) is my latest in the arsenal of too many pasta gadgets, and it's kind of fun to use.

Once the pasta dough is made, you cut it into ribbons, feed it into the cavatelli maker, and crank out the cavatelli.

It's not quite as easy as that, though, through no fault of the machine. For the cavatelli maker to churn out cavatelli shaped pasta, the dough has to be the right consistency, the ribbons need to be the right width and thickness, and the cranking speed needs to be right.

If the dough is too soft, it will stick in the cavatelli maker, no matter how much you flour the outside. If the dough is too dense, it won't curl as well into the proper shape. When it comes to making the ribbons, I eyeballed the first batch and had mediocre results. I measured the second batch and found out that my eyeballed ribbons were way too wide and not nearly thick enough. Later batches worked much better.

You can find the recipe I made here.

After some kneading to get it smooth, I rolled the dough to about 3/8-inch thick and then I cut it into strips about 3/4 inch wide. Because of the gluten in the dough, it tended to shrink width-wise while getting a little thicker. So, you can cut to those dimensions and flatten the ribbons a bit before feeding them through the cavatelli maker, or roll about 1/4 inch thick and cut them slightly wider. The optimum width is 1/2 to 3/4 inches, so having them shrink a little is fine - but I wanted my cavatelli to be larger rather than smaller.

I found that cranking quickly worked best when I first fed the dough through the cavatelli maker, but when I re-rolled the scraps and the dough had more flour incorporated into it, I needed to crank just a little bit slower to get the correct shapes. It's easy enough to look at the results and adjust the speed.

While it's fun to pile them up and watch the mountain of pasta grow, it's best if you keep them dusted with flour and as separate as possible, unless you want the fun of trying to separate stuck pasta, or starting over with re-rolling them.

For every dough ribbon I fed through the cavatelli maker, I had a few that didn't shape correctly, usually at the beginning or end of the ribbon, but since I wasn't making them for professional sale, it didn't matter that I had a few that were flat or odd-looking. If you're after perfect presentation, you can pick out the mutants and add them to the pasta scraps that remained from cutting the ribbons and give them another run through the cavatelli maker.

The cavatelli can be cooked immediately, or you can let them dry a bit before cooking, or freeze them for later use. If you're not going to be cooking them right away, dust them with flour. If you can spread them out on a baking sheet, that's best - it keeps them from sticking together.

Give them a little shake now and then to make sure that they're not gluing themselves together where they're touching.

Cook the finished cavatelli just like any other pasta - in boiling salted water until they're done to your liking. Fresh pasta cooks faster than dry, but keep in mind that these are thicker than your basic spaghetti or linguine.

It's best if you don't add the cavatelli to the water in one big pile - send them into the water gently, or you could end up with one large clump of stuck pasta. They're less likely to stick if they're frozen or if you've set them out to dry a bit, but its still best to add them slowly. Then stir. And stir again later. Fresh pasta is sticky, and you don't want it sticking to the bottom of the pot, either.

And there you have it. Home made pasta, all ready for sauce. Or, if you prefer, cook them in boiling water, then toss them in a pan with some brown butter. Maybe with some sage or thyme.

Quick Review

Who's it for: People who often make home made pasta and want to make specialty shapes.

Pros: So far, it seems to be sturdy and well-made. I was happy with the pasta I made with it, and it was really fast.

Cons: There's a bit of a learning curve, particularly if someone hasn't made pasta dough before. Also, like many pasta makers, this can't be washed in water, so if that squicks you out, you might want to stick with buying boxed pasta.

Source: I received this at no cost from Harold Import Company. Want more info? Check here.

1 comment:

  1. I was able to order from, and it just arrived! You can guess tomorrow's project... Thanks for the frank review.


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