Pappardelle with lemon sauce

Since moving to Bettona it has been my custom to return to New York for the winter. I know that’s not intuitive — snow birds are supposed to go south — but it has been wrapped up with coming back to spend time with my mother, family, and friends. But now that she’s gone the Bettona to Blauvelt ratio changes each year based on events in New York. This year I stayed a little longer because Bette Midler finally is coming to Broadway in Hello Dolly — something I have been wishing for for years. And I got tickets.

The pull for heading back are two-fold. It is a mixture of missing the friends and the life I’ve built there, and the food. The placement of the comma is the tip off that the two reasons, the second one being the food, are pretty much equal.

But what to do while I’m in New York and dreaming of Italy?To the delight of friends, the down time is spent perfecting classic dishes for that cook book that one day will be finished. One such recipe is fettuccine with lemon sauce, which I fell in love with in Norcia years ago. (Since Norcia was so heavily hit in the earthquake of October 30, 2016, I won’t be able to have this dish for a while. Therefore, it is imperative that I perfect it at home.) You can also make this with pappardelle, as shown in the photo above, or with spaghetti, shown at the bottom, when you want a fast dish. One always has spaghetti in the pantry.

It’s an easy recipe but there is a tricky part. The measurements I’m giving are for four people but it is easily expanded. The basic past rule is 60-70grams of dried pasta per person if it’s a first course, 100grams per person if it’s the main course. For a first course for four you’ll want 250grams of fettuccine if it’s dried or “fresh” purchased outside the home.

To no one’s surprise, I prefer to make the pappardelle and fettuccine myself. To make it more special, I like to add finely chopped parsley into the pasta so it comes out speckled. For four people, this is what I do:
• 200g of 00 flour
• two whole eggs (or one whole and one yolk if I want it more yellow)
• 2T spoon of finely chopped parsley leaves – No stems or the pasta will tear when rolling out
• a glass of white wine or prosecco (Some to add moisture but the rest for drinking while you’re working. This method of drinking while working was taught to me by my friend Enrica when I first arrived in Bettona. )

Put the flour on your work surface in a mound. (A hard nonporous surface is best. If  you use wood, be careful to work quickly so surface does not get wet, which will cause you to use more flour when rolling out the dough.) Make a well in the flour, add egg and finely chopped parsley; using a fork, mix ingredients into the center, pulling from the edges inward and adding splashes of wine as you go. As it comes together, you can use your pastry scrapper to bring it all into a ball. Adding a splash of wine or a bit of flour to make the dough the correct consistency, Knead for about 8 minutes until dough is elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for half an hour to rest. Then, divide dough in half — pastry cutter again — and wrap the second part up again while you roll out the first. Roll out your dough into a large rectangular sheet that is fairly thin. Fold dough in from the top and the bottom into a roll that doesn’t meet and cut fettuccine crosswise. Unfurl ribbons of pasta and place in nests on a dish towel nearby, adding some flour to keep it from sticking. I usually do this in front of guests so the pasta does not sit around for more than 15 minutes before it goes in the water.

Start your pot of water to boil and then roll out the second half of the dough.

With the pasta resting on their towels and the water is getting ready to boil, it is time to begin the sauce.

• 4T butter
• grated peel of one medium lemon
• juice of half a fresh lemon
• 1/2 C of white wine
• 2 diced pieces of ham
• 1T chopped parsley leaves
• 1/2 C cream or half and half
• 1 egg yolk
• freshly grated Parmigiano — NOT Pecorino Romano

In a frying or sautè pan over a medium heat, melt butter, add lemon zest, juice, wine, and ham and, while stirring, cook off alcohol. Then add parsley, stir, and remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix egg yolk and the half and half or cream. Spoon the hot mixture into the egg mixture a bit at a time while stirring until most of the hot mixture is added. Return mixture to pan and stir until thickened, a few minutes. Put pasta in water and cook. The fresh pasta will take only a couple minutes. It is done when it floats to the top. Do not drain pasta but instead, scoop pasta into the pan with the cream mixture and coat the pasta completely. Grate some fresh Parmigiano cheese and add a bit of pasta water if needed to keep it creamy. Top with a few fine grinds of back pepper and serve immediately.

And don’t forget to finish the bottle of wine.


(below, photo of spaghetti with lemon sauce)

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