Fresh Papardelle Pasta With Veal Ragu: My Experience at Chef en Vous
This post is about a recipe I learned at a pasta making class that was taught at Chef en Vous, by chef Vanessa Gianfrancesco. I had to write about it because of the amazing time I had and the fantastic result. You can find the recipes for the fresh pasta dough here, and the veal ragu here.
First off, I highly recommend checking out the cooking classes on the Chef en Vous website for a wide variety of cuisines. Bonus: they often have great deals available on Groupon. Chef Vanessa Gianfrancesco is a Montreal-born Italian who was trained in Italy! So you know her style is authentic.
I took the cooking class with my girlfriend just for fun because I always wanted to make fresh pasta, so I figured why not learn some authentic Italian recipes to go with the fresh pasta? Boy, was it worth it. The class was small, only six of us there, so we all had a chance to cook our individual meals. This wasn’t one of those classes where each person only contributes part of the meal, we got to do everything! When all was said and done, I had learned a lot from the one cooking class. It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it regardless of your level of expertise. In fact, one of the men who was in the class had no cooking experience at all! So this isn’t something to be intimidated by.
The pasta recipe is simple, but requires some special attention. Some key things to remember are that the measurements of the flour are by weight NOT by volume, so you will need a kitchen scale. Also, it’s important not to knead the dough too much. Once it’s kneaded, it should have a marbled pattern. You will really see the pattern after you let it set and cut a piece. Also, when rolling out the dough, I used a pasta roller and rolled to the number 3 setting for papardelle. Other long pasta, like fettucini or spaghetti should be rolled to this setting as well. Something like ravioli, however, should be rolled a little thinner to the number 2 or 1 setting since you would be sticking two sheets of pasta together. In the end, it’s always best to try it out for yourself to see how you like it. After all everyone has different tastes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that fresh pasta only needs to boil for 2 minutes max. If you’re cooking it from frozen, add 30 seconds. You want to take the pasta out of the boiling water just before it’s al dente and finish it by tossing it in whatever sauce you’ll be serving it with while you have the sauce simmering. If you try a noodle while the pasta is still in the boiling water, and that noodle is perfectly cooked, then the rest of it that’s still in the water will likely end up overdone, so strain it right away if this is the case. I found cooking the papardelle for 1:30 and tossing it in the sauce for another minute was perfect. This will also depend on the thickness of your pasta, thicker noodles naturally need a little more time. Since it doesn’t take long to cook the pasta, the best thing to do is drop one noodle into the boiling water and try to get the timing right. Once you do, drop in all your pasta at the same time.
The veal ragu took me a few tries to get it the way I like it. The original recipe given by chef Gianfrancesco called for braising the veal in the pan on the stove top for 40 minutes. However, I found that braising the veal in the oven for a longer period at a relatively low temperature (2 hours at 325 F) helped make the veal much more tender than leaving it on the stove top. This made it easier to pull apart the meat. You can try the recipe with chicken, beef, or even pork, but the cooking times will vary depending on the meat and size of the cut. You can also make the recipe with veal shanks, but I saved a lot of money by going with the shoulder.
I hope you all take my advice and get cooking! Whether you take a class, a course, or just cook a little something for yourself. There are few things more rewarding than satisfying others with food.