Chestnut trees ( castagna) are found everywhere in northern Italy. In more difficult times, Italians used to stretch their white four by adding some chestnut flour. The addition of chestnut flour gives this pasta a wonderful nutty flavor while maintaining its smooth texture. Today, Italians make chestnut pasta often during the fall and winter, serving it simply with parmesan and pine nuts to highlight its delicate flavors, or with a hearty ragù as a main course.
Note: Chestnut flour can often be found in specialty grocery stores, at Whole Foods during the winter, or on-line. Callerisis a popular brand, which can be found on Amazon.com.
8 oz. flour, about 1 ¾ cups (preferably Italian 00 flour)
4 oz. chestnut flour, about 1 ¼ cups
½ tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. olive oil
Mix the fours and salt together with a fork. Put on a board and make a well in the center. Beat the eggs and olive oil together with a fork, and add to the middle of the well. With a fork, slowly add in the flour from the inside of the well, trying to maintain the walls. Keep mixing until you have a dough.
Lift the dough off the board, pushing aside the extra flour you may not have used, and clean the board of any clumps of flour. Reflour the board and knead the dough until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Set aside for 15 minutes, covered.
Divide the dough in quarter. Set your pasta machine for the widest setting. Put the dough through the machine. Lightly flour the dough, fold into thirds and put through the same setting once again. Do this a total of 3 times, each time flouring the dough and brushing off the excess flour.
Now set the machine to the 2nd widest setting and pass through the dough. No folding this time. Set the machine to the 3rd widest setting and pass through the dough, again without folding. Make sure the dough does not get sticky, but if it does, sprinkle flour on both sides and brush off excess. Now set the machine to the 4th widest setting and pass through the dough.
To cut the dough, either use the machine’s pasta cutting attachment or fold over the pasta and cut it by hand. Place clean dish towels on a cookie sheet and flour lightly. Spread the pasta out and sprinkle with flour so that it does not stick together.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil (the water should be as salty as the sea). Add the pasta and cook until it is al dente. With fresh pasta, this should just be a few minutes.
Wine Pairings: Syrah, and all Montemaggiore red wines.
Recipe from Chef Gloria DeMaria.