Back in Black

How to make Rolf & Daughters' squid-ink tagliatelle

Philip Krajeck is the four-time James Beard-nominated chef of Rolf & Daughters in Nashville and the reason I dream about pasta at night. So when the time came for me to master the art of making fresh pasta at home—a perfect project for the long, cool nights ahead—I knew exactly who to call.

When I arrive at the restaurant, in the middle of afternoon prep, Krajeck is waiting for me with a full spread of ingredients: two types of flour, eggs, a bowl of squid ink, a rolling pin and a hand-cranked pasta machine (see the step-by-step guide). With the raw materials for an excellent meal splayed in front of me, I can't help but compliment Krajeck on his Italian cooking—prompting a knee-jerk reaction.

"I don't make Italian food," he says, as he pours a mixture of squid ink and egg yolks into a well of flour.

Krajeck doesn't like to call his food "Italian" because of the garlic-stick-and-pasta-bowl images it conjures for many, but his menu does feature his personal takes on many traditional Italian dishes. He calls it "modern peasant food," which makes it sound more rustic, less exclusively European.

After kneading the jet-black dough and letting it rest, Krajeck begins the repetitive process of passing it through the pasta machine. "The more times you pass it through, the shinier the pasta will be," he explains, pausing and holding up a sheet. The pasta glimmers in the sunlight pouring through the windows. Gone is any evidence that the pasta was once a gooey mass of flour, eggs and squid ink; it's now so smooth and shiny it looks like it should have its own block on the periodic table.

That's when you know the pasta is ready to be cut, explains Krajeck. He tosses a handful of flour onto the table and lays the now three-foot-long sheet down. He cuts it into square blocks and passes them through the machine again, this time with a tagliatelle-cutting attachment. Two cranks and out come the thick strands, which he takes back into the kitchen.

I follow him to the pass and watch him sauté sliced garlic, tomatoes, nduja (soft, spicy pork sausage) and clams. He adds the tagliatelle, takes the pan off the heat and tosses in breadcrumbs and slivers of finely julienned scallions (see the recipe).

RELATED   How to Make Pasta alla Norma »

After a few minutes, he returns to the dining room and places the finished dish back onto the flour-bespeckled table we worked on. It's a dramatic plate, with inky black strands against the vibrant greens and reds, and a spicy perfume of both sea and earth. Krajeck hands me a fork and tells me to dig in, and I do, instantly knowing that all that kneading was worth it.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ① Sift the flours together and shape into a mound, making a well in the center. Whisk together the squid ink, olive oil and egg yolks, and pour them into the well.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ② Using a fork, slowly begin to incorporate the flour into the eggs. As the well expands, push the flour up on the outside to prevent the egg mixture from running out.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ③ Once most of the flour has been incorporated, use the palms of your hands to knead the dough into a cohesive mass.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ④ Continue kneading for 10 minutes (you may break a sweat here). This step is very important—it's here that you develop the gluten in the pasta, ultimately determining its texture when cooked. Wrap the dough tightly (to prevent the outside from drying) and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ⑤ Divide the dough into four pieces. Take one piece and flatten it out with a rolling pin to just larger than the widest setting on your pasta machine. Roll through the widest setting twice, then fold the pasta in thirds and roll through the widest setting two more times. Repeat this process until the dough develops a light sheen.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ⑥ Lower the machine to the next finest setting and roll through twice. Continue lowering and rolling until you reach the desired thickness (on our machine this setting is 1.5). At this point, you can either hand-cut or use a special pasta cutter to cut the sheet into tagliatelle.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ⑦ If you're not using them immediately, store the noodles on a sheet pan with semolina to prevent sticking. Place the finished noodles in the freezer. Continue this process with the remaining dough.

  • How to Make Squid Ink Tagliatelle

    ⑧ This is what the finished product will look like, until your friends devour it. Click here for the simple clam sauce recipe, which takes about 15 minutes.

  • 1/8

Around the Web

Get the Tasting Table newsletter for adventurous eaters everywhere
X Share on FB →