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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

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Homemade Tagliatelle

We like to indulge in food, drink, and good company. This post is a glimpse into what fuels our friendships, our work, our lives. Here are chef Jessica O’Brien and interior and prop stylist Emily Rickard, helping in the kitchen, giving our gathering ambience, and making sure everyone’s glass and forks are full.

Ingredients

TAGLIATELLE WITH VANILLA BEAN LOBSTER AND MAITAKE MUSHROOMS

For the Lobster

2 (2 ½ to 3 pound) live lobsters

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Set one lobster on a cutting board. Hold the tail down, and, with a chef’s knife, cut down the line on the head, lengthwise and firmly (you should feel the tip of the knife touching the cutting board) until you hit the horizontal line where the tail begins. The lobster will die instantly, and I much prefer this method to dumping it into a pot of boiling water. It will continue to move a bit, but trust me, it is no longer. Repeat with second lobster.  Remove elastic bands from claws.

Cook the lobsters about 6 minutes. They will turn bright red. Remove them from the pot with tongs and run under cold water briefly. Tear the claws off, then, tear the tail off. Discard the head, unless you’re planning on making stock.

Lobster 101

Use shears to cut vertically down the tail on both sides – this will make it easy to remove the shell and the meat in a single, clean piece.

Cover the claws with a dish towel and tap them with a mallet to crack them. Pry off some of the shell, and pull out the meat.

Chop the lobster into bite-sized pieces.

Tagliatelle with Lobster & Mushrooms

For the Pasta

Note: Vanilla bean accentuates lobster’s sweetness, while the maitake mushrooms beefiness rounds out and anchors the dish.

1 recipe fresh pasts (see our previous post)

6 to 8 tablespoons salted butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Chopped lobster from recipe above

8 ounces maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms, chopped

3 vanilla beans, seeds scraped out, pods reserved for other use

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 small bunch chives, chopped (about ¼ cup)

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl it in the pan until it begins to turn golden and aroma is nutty. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and allow to evaporate, about 1 minute.

Add the lobster, mushrooms, and vanilla bean and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until they are golden. Add more butter if desired.

Toss mixture with pasta and chives. Serve immediately. Mangia!

Time to Eat!!

Supple and full, biting into fresh pasta is like biting into a bottom lip. Sold? Yes, it’s a bit of an effort, but pressing palms into soft dough as you push and extend is an addictive release.

This is how we like to do it.

FRESH PASTA

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Note: You can use equal parts semolina and all-purpose flour in this recipe.

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface and adjustment

5 large eggs, at room temperature

Salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

On a clean, dry work surface, combine the flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Form the flour into a hill, then create a well in its center. Add the eggs and a drizzle of oil to the well and begin vigorously stirring them, breaking the yolks and mixing them with the whites.

With the fork, quickly and steadily begin pulling the flour into the eggs, making sure no lumps remain – remember, steady.  Continue doing this until the flour and eggs are completely incorporated. Use a bench scraper to gather any scraps and press them into the dough.

Begin kneading: use your palm to gather the dough towards you, press it into the table, rotate, and repeat. Essentially, you want to shape the dough into a ball as you knead.

Making pasta, like making pie dough and bread, is highly tactile. The more you make it, the more you’ll understand its texture. It will start smooth and pliable, then begin to get sticky (add a bit more flour at this point – you want to keep the surface dry enough to be able to knead,  but don’t go crazy), then a bit rough and tough, like a muscle after you’ve been on the stairmill for a few minutes, then it’ll become smooth and terse like Hollywood starlet’s well-trained bum.  The whole process will take about 15 minutes.

Set the dough aside and cover it with a dish rag that has been dampened and extremely wrung out. Allow it to rest at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes.

Set up your pasta roller (I use a traditional hand-cranked one) and adjust the knob to the widest opening. Cut the dough into 4 pieces and pat each one into a rectangle about ¾-inch thick. Crank the dough through the machine twice. Adjust the knob one setting down and repeat the process. All you’re doing is thinning it out, one level at a time. Eventually, your dough will be a long, thin sheet.

At this point, you can use the attachment on your pasta maker to cut the dough into fettuccine strands, but I prefer a thicker noodle. To make the tagliatelle, fold the dough onto itself, almost as if you were making a wide jelly roll, then cut it crosswise with a knife into 1-inch thick ribbons. Unspool them and set them aside on a lightly floured sheet pan.

Store the pasta, refrigerated and tightly wrapped in plastic, for 2 to 3 days, or eat immediately.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta about 4 minutes until all dente. Drain. Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil or a knob of good butter and Maldon salt.

Thank you to Emily Rickard & Jessica O’Brien for their amazing work on this post.

Stay tuned for our lobster tagliatelle recipe in the coming weeks!

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