I had to waste four cups of flour before I perfected this recipe. The first recipe I found online did not require eggs nor all-purpose flour, just semolina and water. I thought that was odd, but I gave it a try anyway. I should have trusted my instinct. The “dough” refused to stick together and just ended up becoming a shredded mess. I found another recipe that required eggs but did not list semolina, so I thought I’d combine the two instructions until the dough felt right in my hands, just like I learned in my gnocchi class last year.
And what exactly is “right”? I’m not sure if I can describe, but after I mixed the flour with the eggs, I freely sprinkled the kitchen counter with semolina and started kneading. Every time the dough got a little sticky, I dusted with more semolina to allow me to continue kneading it. I stopped until the dough felt pliable enough to cut and roll into snake-like noodles. That’s the word I was looking for! Pliable!
It took an hour to make the pici and they looked like they weren’t going to feed more than two people, but as soon as I cooked the pasta and distributed them to three deep serving dishes, I had enough for two more servings the next day. The cooked pasta was plump and I really needed just one tong-heaping for each person.
Caz Hildebrand’s The Geometry of Pasta is an awesome book about pasta with really cool illustrations.
2 pounds of tripe, thawed, thoroughly washed, dried with paper towels
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red onion, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
For the pici pasta:
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water
any hard cheese, shaved
some parsley, finely chopped
1. Prepare the tripe. Cut the tripe into smaller square sheets and cook in a large pot of boiling water with the salt and vanilla for about an hour, or until the tripe is tender. It’s okay that they are still a little chewy; just make sure it’s not rubbery. Drain and slice into smaller pieces.
2. Make the pasta while the tripe is cooking. Pour out the flour on a clean kitchen counter surface and create a hole in the middle. Crack each egg in the center of the well and mix with a fork. When the egg is mixed into the flour, begin to add a tiny bit of water at a time, each time trying to mix in as much flour as possible. When all of the flour is mixed in, begin to knead the flour. Youâ€™re going to probably do this for about 8-10 minutes. When complete, make dough into a mound and pour a teaspoon of olive oil on top. Cover with a dish towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
2. Cut the dough into smaller pieces and roll each into thin dowels and into snake-like noodles. Place the pici on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour and cover the pasta with the dish towel. Set aside until ready to use.
3. Make the sauce. In a large pot, heat some oil. Sauté some garlic until light brown. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tripe and cook by sauteéing. Lower the heat and add the tomato sauce. Mix and simmer for 10 minutes, just enough to incorporate the tomatoes.
4. Cook the pasta. Salt a large pot of water and put over high heat until boiling. Add the pici and cook for 10 minutes or until al dente. Use tongs to remove them from the water onto deep serving dishes. Top with sauce, cheese and parsley.