Have you ever tasted Pici pasta? Pici, not to be called “picci”, is similar to spaghetti, although the pieces are stretched by hand. They are made from flour and water only. No eggs are contained in the dough. The name comes from dialect verb “appiciare”, meaning “sticky”. But let’s talk recipes: do you know how to make Pici pasta? Well, the recipe is really easy! You just need flour, salt, water, a little olive oil and your hands to get dirty!
200 grams (7oz) of wheat flour
100(3,5 oz) grams of durum wheat (remember: two parts of wheat flour and 1 part of durum wheat. This way you won’t need eggs)
2 tablespoons of extra-virginolive oil
1 pinch of salt
Water, as needed
Follow these steps:
Mix the two types of flour. Add the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Do not overdo the salt because the dough becomes hard.
Add the water and when the dough begins to stick, knead energetically using the palm of your hand. If necessary, add water or flour.
Knead the dough energetically for at least 10 minutes until you obtain a smooth and soft consistency.
Remember that your ball of dough is a living thing, so you must take care of it! :) Let the dough rest for half an hour wrapped in foil.
When the dough is ready, cut a piece and make a ball, then roll it out with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1cm. With a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut into many thin strips of 1 cm and cover the rest of the dough with plastic wrap to keep it from drying.
Roll the dough with the palm of your hand and stretch it outward at the same time.
Once you have finished your pici, cover with some flour so that it does not stick to the others. Now boil some salted water, add your pici and cook them for about 5 minutes (when they rise to the surface, they are ready).
Some important notes while you prepare your pici:
1. It doesn't matter how long your pici are. The length does not affect the taste!
2. Pici should not be too thick. The correct size is more or less like the diameter of 'bucatini' pasta.
3. If they break down while you're making them, don't worry! You will have some shorter pici. Pici are not perfect! They shouldn't be.
THE TWO MOST TRADITIONAL SAUCES FOR PICI: AGLIONE AND TUSCAN RAGU'
AGLIONE SAUCE GARLIC SAUCE
8 garlic cloves
800 gr(28oz) peeled tomatos or plum and cherry tomatoes
Salt, pepper, grated pecorino cheese (purists would avoid cheese but it is up to you)
Finely chop garlic and sauté in olive oil on a low heat; add diced tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Cook pici in boiled water and finish the cook in this sauce for a few minutes and sprinkle with pecorino cheese.
TUSCAN RAGU’ SAUCE
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 or 3 gloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3 bay leaves
a sprig of fresh rosemary
500 gr(17oz) minced beef or veal
4 x 400 gr(14oz) tins of plum tomatoes
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese for grating on top !
Heat a big saucepan, add the olive oil and the chopped onion and garlic and cook slowly for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the bay leaves, rosemary, minced beef or veal and the tomatoes. Stir well and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down ans simmer gently for 2 hours with lid on the pan (this is the secret: so no less than 2 hours…). In case the sauce starts to stick at any point, add a splash of hot water and stir well. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Fish out the bay leaves and rosemary sprig and after draining the past stir the Pici into the hot ragù sauce. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan!