Slave to the noodle
September 28, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Give me your most complex, time consuming pasta dinner menu/ recipes.

I've got a complete day free soon and I want to spend a good chunk of it making dinner- short of making my own pasta, what's the most intricate, fussy, complex super-impressive pasta-based dinner I could make? Side dishes and other courses welcome, no food allergies/ restrictions, have access to pretty much any foodstuff on Earth.
posted by The Whelk to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Why wouldn't you make your own pasta? Store bought pasta is not very good.

Roast off some short ribs and shred the meat and make a ragout for tagliatelli. Or duck confit ragout would be really good as well.
posted by TheBones at 3:04 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ragù alla napoletana!
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:04 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

why not make your own pasta? It is easy, and will always beat any pasta you can buy.

In particular, you might want to try making a couple different hand-formed pastas—this is time consuming but fun, and good done with friends. These are self-links, but here are some fun shapes you can make at home: hand-formed pasta.

Cook yourself a real meat Bolognese or a ragu (duck is good for fall) and call it good.

Or if you like fussy and cute (not so time-consuming, though), make ravioli filled with a hen's egg yolk and a shaving of Pecorino.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:08 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hm, well I usually make fresh pasta when I do this, but if you made a lasagna with homemade sauce and ricotta, that would be a bit fussy and delicious.
posted by katie at 3:09 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ricotta is surprisingly easy to make, as is mozzarella. I once made lasagna entirely from scratch - pasta from scratch, tomato sauce from scratch, ricotta from scratch, etc. It took all day long. People were impressed.

I agree that you should make the pasta from scratch! It makes such an enormous difference — don't short yourself on the most important ingredient in any pasta dish! Even if you don't have access to a pasta machine, you can still make lasagna noodles with a rolling pin and a pizza cutter.
posted by adiabat at 3:13 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I recently made Homemade Pasta in a Thyme-Mint Cream Sauce and it was delicious. It took about 2.5 hours with two people in the kitchen, including making the pasta. We ate it with tomato soup topped with homemade ricotta and a fancy salad.

I also made some Tomato Sauce from scratch, and peeling and seeding a flat of tomatoes took me 2 hours. The actual sauce took an hour or so to cook down.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:16 PM on September 28, 2011

posted by Faint of Butt at 3:17 PM on September 28, 2011

Of course make your own pasta, butternut squash ravioli is very good. Batali's recipes are time-consuming and complicated but it might just be the way they are written. Gnocchi is also good, potato or ricotta. I love the sound of the roasted short ribs above too!
posted by bquarters at 3:19 PM on September 28, 2011

Homemade gnocchi. You don't need any special equipment (although a potato ricer helps), and the results are much, much better than strorebought.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2011

oh def n'thing the scratch lasagna.
You'll get better noodles, you can make it a little drier and by cooking everything individually and layering afterwards you can stack some very layered yumminess. THings I've put in 'lasagna':

-fresh noodles, natch
-homemade sausage, finely sliced (80/20 bison/pork in this case)
-caramelized onion 'jam'
-bell pepper ragu
-home made ricotta & mozzarella
-dried tomatoes & tomato sauce
-butternut squash
-lobster ravioli (more interesting than successful)
posted by mce at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2011

FoB beat me to it: Timballo, Timpano, or Timpani. Watch Big Night while you make it.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:22 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I make Marcella Hazan's Bolognese I like to let it ride on the stove for several hours. I made one a week ago that went for about 12 hours. Its-a pretty good.
posted by rhizome at 3:30 PM on September 28, 2011

Right, "Big Night," a model for your project.
posted by fivesavagepalms at 3:39 PM on September 28, 2011

Pasta cooked like risotto is very good, and different.

I think store-bought dried pasta is actually better for some dishes, including this one. You can spend your time on a fantastic mirepoix with hand-cut vegetables, hand-cutting the meat for your ragout, mincing and caramelizing many shallots, and whatever else.
posted by BibiRose at 3:43 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make your own pasta. It's easy, and possibly one of the single most rewarding things you can do with your time. Doubly so if you're feeding someone else, as you get to say, "I made the pasta from scratch," and then you're the coolest person who ever lived for the rest of the meal.

Super easy recipe:
1 cup white flour (bakers or durham makes the best, but not necessary)
1 egg
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon of olive oil

Use your hands to mix this mess together in a bowl. Once it's mixed, add water, about a teaspoon at a time until it starts to form a solid mass. Put it on a flat surface and knead it until it becomes supple. Yes, supple. You'll know it when you see it.

Set it aside for one hour.

After an hour has passed, roll the mass out flat. A pasta machine is quickest, but you can use a rolling pin or a wine bottle for this. Make it as thin as possible before your elbows give out. Cut into desired shapes and dunk into boiling water with a teaspoon of olive. The noodles are done when they float to the surface of the water.

My personal favorite is ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and nutmeg, covered with a gorgonzola béchamel. I'd give you the recipe for this, but I usually make it up on the spot.

To make raviolis, roll out two big sheets of dough. Place little dollops of the mix at regular intervals on the first sheet of dough and cover with the second. It helps if the second sheet is a little larger. Press down on the areas between the dollops of stuffing, forcing the top sheet to bond to the bottom one. Then, using a knife, cut along the areas you just pressed down. You may want to apply extra pressure to the edges of the raviolis once they're separated.

I'm going to stop now because I could talk about this forever. Don't even get me started on lasagna.

Oh, and thirding "Big Night."
posted by lekvar at 3:47 PM on September 28, 2011 [12 favorites]

Jacquilynne gave me a recipe for mushroom lasagne that was time-consuming, required several types of mushrooms, white vermouth, and I forget what else. I wanted it to be taller, so I added a base layer of butternut squash puree thickened with a bit of roux. I took this to a potluck, and attained immediate status as a fabulous cook. I was recently given some dried chanterelle mushrooms, and plan to make it again. The recipe came from Cooks Illustrated.
posted by theora55 at 3:55 PM on September 28, 2011

And I am happy to send the mushroom lasagna recipe to you if you'd like it, though I won't post it here since I understand the CI people are a little predatory on the subject of their copyrights.

Alternately, you could try to repeat my 100 layer lasagna experiment. But that would require making your own pasta. Also, it took me three days, not one.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:11 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yes, rhizome! Time consuming and real Italian? Marcella Hazen's Ragù alla Bolognese. About 1.5 hrs to get going and then at least 6 hrs simmering. It's what heaven tastes like.
posted by okbye at 4:12 PM on September 28, 2011

I'm thirding or fourthing making your own gnocchi. I would suggest ricotta gnocchi, both for lowering the amount of work involved (allowing you to spend time on other complicated things) and for perceived fanciness.
posted by gurple at 4:33 PM on September 28, 2011

Honestly, I only make pasta if I am pairing it with a light tomato n' cream sauces. Anything hearty and the dried pasta is better, IMO.

Anyways, for the sake of complexity and time-to-make, Alton Brown's meat sauce for spaghetti is very good and takes just short of forever to make—all afternoon, anyway and sports a very long list of ingredients.

Less complex but truly exotic and something you probably haven't had, ever, is Splendid Table's Tagliatelle with Caramelized Oranges and Almonds. It tastes brightly of orange and is amazingly good paired with a roasted chicken or, as I have found, country style pork ribs cooked long in a slow cooker.
posted by bz at 4:53 PM on September 28, 2011

Splendid Table's Tagliatelle with Caramelized Oranges and Almonds.

Link doesn't work. Here it is.
posted by John Cohen at 5:31 PM on September 28, 2011

This recipe for Baked Pasta with Pork Sugo (from Food & Wine, via The Kitchen Sink) is absolutely phenomenal. It took all day, my house smelled incredible, it was worth every minute, and it was just perfect for autumn as well. I cannot recommend it highly enough. In fact, it's on my calendar for an upcoming Sunday, and everyone in my house is a little overexcited about that fact.
posted by amelioration at 5:38 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

Not technically pasta, but homemade riosotto and minestrone soup (from scratch) are common holiday dinners for us that take most of the day.
posted by ejaned8 at 6:29 AM on September 29, 2011

James Beard's recipe for Spinach Gnocchi is excellent and takes all day. The dough/batter (and trust me, it is batter like when it is first mixed) needs to sit uncovered in a fridge for two hours and the process of forming the little gnocchi balls always took me a long time, given just how sticky the dough is in the end. The end product, however, is amazing.

I haven't made this in ages, but I have very fond memories of spending Saturdays making this with friends and loved ones.
posted by Hactar at 6:56 AM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the fix, John Cohen.
posted by bz at 2:58 PM on September 30, 2011

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