Welcome to The Gadget Chef

Ok so I'm not really a chef, but I do like to play one in the kitchen. I'm your everyday average guy, who is really into 2 things, food and gadgets! And I love combining the two and experimenting with that.

I've tried many gadgets out there, some with success and some with miserable failures. But my biggest goal is to limit what space I take up with what gadgets. As a person with a less than sizable kitchen, counter top real estate is so important I can't be the type that has several gadgets out all the time, and I'm also the type that if it's not out and handy, I'm likely not to use it.

So through the course of this blog I will give out some info on those items I've gotten over the years and how I use them, and some recipes, and be sure to share yours too, or comment if you've tried them

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

KitchenAid Pasta Roller and Cutters

Lately it's been more recipes than gadgets.  Today I get to talk about a brand new gadget that I got.  Yes I am worse than a kid with a credit card in a candy store when it comes to gadgets, admittedly that's kitchen gadgets and just about any other kind of gadget as well.  Ask my wife she will tell you how bad I could be.

Every once in a while I have to say I am more than shocked at what something can do, and this is one of those moments.  Yesterday I received a package, this one I have been pondering over for well over a month.  As I escalate my list of culinary creations at home, a couple months ago I decided it was time to try to make some fresh pasta.  I decided on a light wheat pasta, and found a recipe from KitchenAid that looked pretty good.  This was going to be by hand, well except for the mixing part.  This should be no problem right?  I certainly didn't know what I was getting into, and now I know why the mob was so rough, their momma's were tough gals after rolling out all that pasta by hand.   I mean it's a good workout rolling out that dough, trying to get it thin enough, especially if you have minimal countertop space to work on.  Then to cut it I used a pizza cutter with a cookie sheet as a guide, my noodle sizes were no where near consistent, but it worked.   The end results were very good, albeit I gave up and the noodles were a little thicker than I would have liked.

It was then I decided if I was going to make pasta it was time for a new gadget.  Now here was decision time, my immediate first instinct was the KitchenAid attachment for my mixer, it's what I have seen the most and I've had great luck with my mixer as well.  However the pasta maker attachment sets are not cheap by any means, MSRP being $249 for the basic set of roller, and 2 cutters, then they also have the Pasta press for $189.   Both options seemed a bit pricy for something I wasn't sure how often I would use, I mean how much easier was this going to be than hand rolling?  Was it really going to be something that I would use often? Would my days of boxes of dried pasta be over?  These were serious questions to which i had no answers at all.

Starting to look at the KitchenAid attachments I had to do some thinking, one was a roller and was an extruder.  Personally I like fettuccine and linguini better than spaghetti, but is there a real difference, I mean pasta is pasta right?  Well doing some research online I came across people saying that the biggest difference in pasta is whether it's rolled or extruded.  Being pushed through those tiny holes to make the pasta causes it to be kind of dense and heavy, whereas rolled pasta is supposed to be lighter and more porous causing it to hold sauce better.  While pondering this thought, it made a lot of sense, and I'd say I have to agree with it, which is why I probably tend to like the flatter noodles, more surface area to hold onto that delicious sauce, whether it be marinara or alfredo.  At this point the KitchenAid press was nixed, while the idea of making my own macaroni was nice, I'd much rather make my own fettuccine, which would definitely lead to more use, and not something else to pack in the pantry.  A roller was definitely the way to go, but that doesn't mean to say I narrowed down the decision any more.

So I got to thinking, and yes this is a very dangerous moment when I do.  A manual pasta maker, they aren't too expensive, maybe I could  get one of them and test the waters.  I began doing a lot of strolling along the web reading up on these classic devices.  What did I find? Many articles saying don't waste your money on a cheap manual rollers, statements like the handle wouldn't stay in, to not staying clamped down, to metal coming off into your pasta.  From that point the reviews pointed to 2 main contenders, Marcato Atlas, and Imperia Pasta Machines, both of which run right around $69.  I had a hard time swallowing that price for a manual pasta machine.  Manual pasta makers just seem like they are either made for two people or someone with three hands, and since I'm neither, the KitchenAid roller won out, and I couldn't be more pleased with that decision.

For my first attempt I stayed simple, standard egg pasta straight from the recipe book that came with it.  With this attachment it couldn't be easier.  I will post the recipe and some pictures the next time I get it out, which I plan on being real soon.

Making the dough in the mixer is a breeze, then let it rest covered for about 20-30 minutes, then you can actually knead it by running it through the roller on it's highest setting quite a few times, just folding it over and re-running it through, this works twofold, one by kneading the pasta, and two by helping you to create a more uniform sheet before you start thinning it out.

KitchenAid is changing their package right now, so the package will contain the roller, fettuccine cutter, and a linguini cutter, however if you look right now you can save a good bit and get their original package on clearance.  The only difference is instead of a linguini cutter you get a spaghetti cutter, this was the package I was able to get, for only $139.  The cutters on the spaghetti cutters are rounded so you get the rounded spaghetti shape, but if you are so inclined, you can still use it to make a thin linguini.  So the difference in my mind is minor.  In fact when I placed the order I wasn't entirely sure which one I would get, and I'm still not sure I care enough to spend an extra $70-$80 for the different cutter. I think the next time I make pasta I'm going to try a thin linguini and see what I think, I can't imagine I will be be disappointed.

This attachment has now lead me to stock up on all purpose flour and I'm sure will lead to the purchase of some semolina flour to experiment with as well.   I see a good bit of pasta in my future, but very little if any from those little boxes in the grocery store, thanks primarily to my KitchenAid pasta rollers.  If you want to make fresh pasta and have a KitchenAid mixer, this in my mind is almost a must have.  I can't even imagine hand rolling pasta now.

Best of luck in the kitchen....Ciao!