Fresh Pasta Without a Machine | My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball

Cooks illustrated pasta recipe

The current edition of Cook’s Illustrated promises to offer one of my son’s favorite foods; perfect fresh pasta. Unfortunately, despite all my previous efforts, I’ve never been able to beat a $2.50 package of refrigerated Buitoni. So today I tried Chris Kimball’s technique, and I was quite pleased with how easily the dough is mixed, spread and cut into linguine. It was even easier than using the pasta machine, and cleaning a countertop is much simpler than trying to brush the dough fragments stuck to the pasta machine. The key to getting the perfect al dente texture is to spread the dough incredibly thin. The guidelines it gives when spread out on a 20″x6″ sheet allowed me to understand how thin the mass should be. In the end, the final pasta was perfectly cooked with great texture. So far so good.

Unfortunately, the recipe relies on egg yolks instead of double zero flour to achieve its smooth and viable texture. While it provides a beautiful yellow color, it also adds a slight but distinctive egg flavor that left my son liking, but not loving, his dinner. 3-1/2 stars.


  1. I used the roller recommended by Chris Kimball, but the tapered ends made it difficult to obtain a uniform thickness. I think the non-tapered ends would have made the lamination process easier and more effective.
  2. I didn’t make any of their recommended sauces; Olive oil sauce with anchovies and parsley, tomato brown butter sauce or walnut cream sauce. I will definitely try one or two in the future, and sauces may have been more effective at hiding the taste of the egg.
  3. The original recipe calls for folding the dough into 2″ folds, but I found the 3″ folds easier to unfold.
  4. Chris Kimball points out that if you use King Arthur flour, you’ll need to use 7 egg yolks to make up for the extra protein.
  5. I let the dough sit for 2 hours and it spread well. However, the longer the dough rests in step 2 (up to 4 hours), the easier the dough will spread.
  6. Chris Kimball offers some alternative ways. I tried bow ties, but it’s a lot more work and in the future I’ll stick with linguine.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars. Cost: $1.40; 1 pound of fresh pasta. How much work? Low/Medium. How big is a disaster? Low/Medium. Start: 4:00 PM. Dinner: 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

2 cups

all-purpose flour (10 ounces) 2 large eggs plus 6 large yolks 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon salt

  1. Add flour, eggs, yolks, and olive oil to a food processor bowl. Mix for 45 seconds until cohesive. If the dough sticks to the fingers, add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time (up to 4 tablespoons) until the dough becomes sticky. But if the dough does not become cohesive, add 1 teaspoon of water (up to 3 teaspoons) until the dough comes together. Process an additional 30 seconds to incorporate your settings.
  2. Empty the dough onto a dry, flour-free work surface. Knead by hand for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth. Roll in a 6″ long cylinder and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 to 4 hours, the upper end will make the dough easier to spread.
  3. Add 4 quarts of water to a large pot and place it on a medium burner. The water will slowly boil while spreading the paste.
  4. Cut into 6 equal pieces and rewrap the remaining dough. Sprinkle both sides of 1 slice with flour, place the slice on a dry, flour-free work surface. Use your fingers to press on a 3″ square. Use a roller to roll in a 6″ square. Lightly sprinkle both sides with flour. Keeping the width of 6″, roll the dough in a rectangle of 12″ by 6″; Start in the middle of the dough roll away from you, turn the roller to the center of the dough, and roll half closer to you. Repeat as needed to obtain a 12″ by 6″ rectangle.
  5. Again lightly sprinkle both sides with flour and continue the same rolling process until you get a 20″ by 6″ rectangle, which will become somewhat translucent. Lift the dough from time to time to make sure it does not stick to the countertop, and if the dough sticks to the counter too often or crumples when you spread it, then you need to lightly sprinkle the dough with flour again. Repeat the rolling process with the remaining dough slices. Be careful not to add too much flour or the dough may break when rolling.
  6. Let the pasta sheet sit on a clean kitchen towel for 15 minutes before cutting. To make linguine, freely fold the pasta sheet at 3″ intervals to form a flat roll. Use a chef’s knife to cut into noodles 3/16″ wide. Gently use your fingers to unfold the cut paste. Place it on a baking sheet while preparing your sauce, but be sure to cook within 1 hour.
  7. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to boiling water. Boil the paste for about 3 minutes. Reserve a cup of pasta cooking water for later, drain and combine with the sauce. If your sauce isn’t ready right away, add some of the cooking water from the reserved pasta to loosen the sauce again.
  8. If you don’t cook all the pasta tonight, place your shaped pasta on a frozen baking sheet until it’s firm. Once frozen, you can put a freeze in zip-lock bags for up to 2 weeks.

This entry was posted on Saturday, April 28th, 2012 at 8:24 am and is filed under 2012 Recipe, Things I normally buy. You can follow any response to this post via the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a reply or trackback from your own site. Culinary specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the restaurant industry.

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