Chef Secrets is a monthly series where a local Connecticut chef teaches us a trick, tip, or how-to, to make your life as a home cook easier. This month, CT Eats Out stepped into the kitchen with Chef de Cuisine Matt Wick from River Tavern in Chester, CT, where he taught us how to make handmade semolina cavatelli. And it's seriously so easy, watch:
You can read our interview with Chef Matt here, and we highly recommend you use this video and the recipe for Semolina Cavatelli, below, to help you make his recipe for Cavatelli with Guanciale, Ricotta, Lemon and Marjoram.
Makes approximately 1 pound (454 grams) of cavatelli
2 cups (335 grams) semolina flour, plus some for dusting
3/4 cup (177 ml) water
Add the flour to a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in the water in a slow stream until a shaggy mass forms. At this point dump the mass onto a clean, dry work surface and begin kneading it until it forms a smooth dough. If it feels too wet, work in a bit more semolina. Too dry, a bit more water. You are looking for a slightly stiff but rollable dough.
Form the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic. Let rest at least 30 minutes on the counter or up to 3 days in the fridge. If refrigerating, make sure to pull out at room temperature at least 30 minutes before rolling the dough out.
Cut a small section from the disc of dough, and re-wrap the rest of the dough while you work so that it doesn't dry out. Begin rolling the section of dough into a rope with your hands on a clean, dry surface, preferably a wooden table. If the rope gets too long, just cut it in half and shape each half separately. You are looking for an even 1/2 inch thick rope. Repeat with the other half and line up the two ropes close together. With a knife, cut the ropes into equal 2 inch lengths.
On a wooden surface or a ridged gnocchi paddle, drag the small pieces of dough, one at a time, across the surface, pressing and pulling back at the same time with two fingers. You will get a dumpling with ridges on one side and two deep indentations on the other. Flick the finished cavatelli onto cookie sheet heavily dusted with more semolina flour. Be sure to coat the cavatelli well in the flour so that they don't stick. Keep covered.
Repeat the process. You will eventually get the hang of it and be able to roll a large amount of ropes very quickly, but it is very important to not do too much at once, so the pasta doesn't dry out.
You can leave the cavatelli out at room temp on the covered sheet try for at least a couple hours before cooking, or freeze until your ready to use at a later date.