STARTERS: HOW TO MAKE AND SERVE TAJARIN
The “Tajarin” – 6 to 8 servings
Time to prepare: 1 hour
“Tajarin” is the pasta most often eaten in Piedmont; tajarin are shaped like small tagliatelle: a string of flat pasta, about 20-25 cm long, 1,5 mm large, and 1,5mm thick. Nowhere else in Italy will you eat pasta shaped this way, nor a pasta as thin as tajarin. The second main difference is to be found in the type of flour used: whereas “durum wheat” is used everywhere else in Italy to make pasta with, in Piedmont we use the more common “soft” type of flour, the one type used to make bread. The resulting tajarin are more delicate to the palate, but require a bit more care and attention to cook. Tajarin is pronounced Ta .. Ja .. Rin
400 gr. of wheat flour,
Some milk, or water, depending on the type of flour and the size of the eggs,
A pinch of salt.
How to prepare the dough
This part of the recipe is so well documented all over the internet, that I will only indicate what’s important to keep in mind when preparing the dough.
First: when using the pasta machine pictured, the quantity of moisture (eggs + water) is about 40% per weight of flour. In other words for 400 gr. of flour use 160 ml. of moisture
Second: you must fold, knead, twist and push-break the dough with your hands, not just your fingers (see picture), until you get a supple, slightly elastic ball; It is not enough to twist the dough nor work it with your fingers.
Third: use the pasta machine to mix the dough even further by repeatedly passing the folded sheets of pasta through the roller set at their thickest. Repeat until the sheet is very smooth, then thin the pasta sheets to the desired thickness (I suggest as thick as the second to last tack on your pasta machine)
Fourth: sprinkle fresh flour on the sheets of pasta before and during the rolling process.
Fifth: if you want the tajarin to bee green in colour, add to the flour 50 gr. of lightly boiled spinach. If you want the tajarin to be read in colour, ad the same quantity of tomato sauce.
Sixth: if you want to the tajarin to adsorb the sauce better, use 20% of “hard flour” mixed with 80% of “soft” flour. This is how I make them. Try both and see wich one you like better.
When finished making the sheets of pasta, move the handle (or the electric motor) of the pasta machine to the tajarin adapter and roll the sheet, gently, trough the shaped cylinders: you are finally seeing the tajarin coming out. They should come out thin, in one piece, and perfectly cut. If the pasta’s still too wet the tajarin will come out wrinkled. Sprinkle some dry flour on the sheets of pasta and pass them again through the roller: they will come out fine. Roll the tajarin in a bird nest fashion, and sprinkle them with dry flour. A better alternative is to put them on a drying mill (my own hand-made one is pictured). Let the tajarin dry for a few hours before cooking.
You’re finally done with it: you made it! You can keep them in a dry room for up to one week. I do them now in less than 20 minutes. But, of course, I do home made pasta at least three times a week.
How to prepare the starter
Boil the water in a saucepan. When the water’s boiling, add the cooking salt (you have poured the right amount of salt when the water suddenly stops boiling) then pour the tajarin in the water. They will cook in no more than 2 to 3 minutes, depending on how long you have let them dry. While the tajarin are cooking, pre-eat the sauce you have decided to dress them with in a sauce pan. When the tajarin are ready, pass them in a colander then pour them in the sauce pan and stir them lightly but enough so that the sauce impregnates them properly: serve hot.
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