Homemade Bigoli Pasta
Thick and chewy, with the nuttiness of whole wheat, bigoli is the signature pasta of the Veneto. At the Ristorante Celeste in Venegazzu, outside of Treviso, Giuliano Tonon taught me how to extrude fresh dough into strands with a torchio, the traditional hand press. But the bigoli is not only a restaurant treat – most home cooks in the region have a torchio in the kitchen and make bigoli every week! Happily, this pleasure is now available to Americans since I have found a genuine torchio for sale on the Internet. Bigoli can also with an electric pasta-extruder or a meat grinder. The two traditional sauces, Bigoli with Chicken Livers and Bigoli with Onion-Anchovy Sauce, are packed with flavor. With homemade bigoli, they each make a big, gusty pasta, very worth the effort and very Venetian. (And if you can’t make your own bigoli, whole wheat spaghetti will be delicious with either sauce.)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working with the dough
- or 3 cups all-purpose flour, and 1 cup whole-wheat flour,
- plus more all-purpose flour for working the dough
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/2 cup warm milk, or more as needed
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
To mix the dough in the food processor, put the flour (all purpose and whole wheat, if using) and salt in the work bowl and process briefly to blend. Drop the butter into ½ cup warm milk; stir to melt the butter, then mix in the milk and beaten eggs.
Start the food processor running, then pour in the liquids through the feed tube. Process for 30 to 40 seconds until a dough forms and gathers on the blade, leaving the sides and bottom of the bowl clean. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it is dry and crumbly, add a bit more milk and process. Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead into a smooth ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and let it rest at room temperature for a half hour before extruding the dough.
If you have a torchio, fit it with the large-hole bigoli die. With a pasta extruding machine or attachment—or a meat grinder—use a disk with ¼-inch holes or as close to that size as you have. If using a meat grinder or attachment be sure to remove the rotary cutting before extruding the dough. Put the dough through a home pasta extruder and cut the strands of pasta into 8-inch lengths as they emerge. Immediately dust them with flour and lay them flat, not touching, on a floured tray or baking sheet. Keep covered with a floured towel until you cook them. (You can freeze the strands on the sheet pan, then wrap them together in plastic wrap, in portions for cooking. Keep in a plastic container to protect from breakage. Cook without thawing.)