Saturday, June 19, 2010

Italian Homemade Orecchiette (Hats) Recipe

I had to ask myself this morning why did I wait so long to finally make this homemade pasta. I have fabulous memories of these hats and they came out just the way I remembered them from a child and what a difference they are homemade from scratch instead of from a box. Much easier to make these than I expected.

My son decided I should make him something special for his 28th birthday, so what better time than to finally try this homemade pasta dish. Happy Birthday Curt, my youngest baby! He ate two plates full..... and said when you making these again? They made a pound and a half...but made lots of extra for tomorrow, and a special Happy Father's Day to all my male readers!!! Lucky for me Curt's birthday always falls around the same time so we celebrate both!
As a little girl I use to go to my Aunt Anna's house and watch her make these with her five daughters. I so wished I had gotten her recipe and made time to learn her tricks of the trade. For years I wanted to learn how to make them, but never had the opportunity to learn her special homemade hat recipe. They were the best and always will be. I decided to try a homemade pasta recipe my grandmother Victoria left behind that her daughter had written down and used this one. Although I could never duplicate the art and talent of my Aunt Anna's, this version is a close second. I made these with fond memories of my childhood years watching her in amazement by transforming dough into these fun shaped she called hats. I never knew they actually had another name until this year! Can you believe that. Only on my trip to Upstate New York this year, and after seeing one of her daughters, Theresa, I was inspired to make these for the first time. I actually had purchased some while I was up there and never knew the real name that of course these are famously known as, Orecchiette. So here is my version, and grandma's recipe for pasta she would use in her soup recipes but made rings with these.

The pieces of dough are sliced in 1/8 inch pieces and then with your index finger make a well forming a hat.
Remember to keep all the remaining dough covered not to dry it out while shaping your pasta
Form dough into a small elastic ball keep the dough covered when not in use so it doesn't dry out.

Small pieces of dough made into a hat shaped pasta.

1 cup semolina flour (I keep my unused semolina in the freezer to keep it fresh)
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
plus 3 to 4 tablespoon
In a heavy duty electric mixer using mixing bowl, combine the semolina, flour, salt and add 3/4 cups of water, mix with flat beater till this forms a ball add 3 to 4 additional tablespoon of warm water if too dry, this dough needs to be smooth and elastic to the touch, but still soft. Note: this may take 20 minutes or so by hand. Form the dough into a ball and cover.

To make the Orecchiette hats, cut off a small handful of the dough (keep the rest of the dough covered). On a lightly floured board, roll the dough into a rope about 3/4 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into slices no more than 1/8 inch thick to form small circles of dough with your index finger make a well inside each piece to form a hat shaped dough pasta. Repeat with all of the remaining dough, placing the Orecchiette on a lightly floured cookie sheet as they are made. You can now freeze these on the cookie sheet and bag for later use, or cook after they dry for about an hour. The Orecchiette are cooked in salt and a little longer than most pasta till they float to the top of the boiling water. To freeze, spread over cookie sheet, freeze and after totally frozen put into bags and freeze up to three months. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds fresh pasta. Serve with plenty Traditional Sunday Sauce , some Braciole topped with a good grade of grating cheese.
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