I’m a noodle freak. I have a David Chang-esque obsession. The world is a tangle of great noodle dishes and I pretty much love them all. Where do we start? Soba, udon, ramen, spag bol, linguine con vongole, jajangmyun, pho, pad thai, singapore noodles, laksa… the list is very long and tasty.
I enjoy watching my son attacking Instant Noodle King Abalone and Chicken noodles with his highly unorthodox chopstick technique. Stabbing at them with fisted sticks, shovelling, winching, slurping.
Instant noodles and dried pasta are truly a great invention in my opinion. Up there with sliced bread and caramel macchiatos. There are hundreds of great products out there and Pot Noodles really aren’t any of them.
In terms of homemade pasta, I’d always thought life’s too short. But I gave it a go one thumb-twiddling afternoon and I must say I’m hooked. Homemade noodles taste wheaty fresh and have a better chew.
A good friend of mine bought me a pasta machine for my wedding which is great, but I still like to cut my own for that thick, mouth-filling, uneven finish. It pleases me that I can create noodles with nothing but hands, a knife and limited skill. This pappardelle recipe requires no rolling at all. And I wanted them swirled in a slow-cooked autumny rich oxtail ragu.
So I went to the butchers and asked for a nice bit of beef with plenty of fat and bone and connective tissue, which would cook down slowly into self-basted flavourful tender meat. I laughed away his tray of neatly trimmed and cubed braising steak. He disappeared out the back and returned waving a cow’s tail at me.
Back home I mixed double zero flour with eggs and kneaded until it came together into a pliable lump, before wrapping and resting in the fridge.
I made the sauce by searing the oxtail and frying bacon, onions, carrots, mushrooms and garlic in a large heavy pan. I added red wine and tomatoes – tinned and puréed, before blipping on the stove for hours.
I allowed the oxtail to rest and cool in the sauce before pulling the meat off the bone. And then returned the shredded meat back to the pan after I’d reduced the sauce to noodle-clinging viscosity.
The exciting bit was retrieving my pasta dough from the fridge, squidging it down to about an inch thick before slicing as thinly as possible with my sharpest knife. I tossed through extra flour to prevent sticking before placing into a pan of heavily salted, fiercely boiling water.
Finally I stirred the cooked pasta through my sauce and showered with parmesan. Chunky noodle heaven!
Ingredients: 00 flour, eggs, salt, oxtail, bacon, onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, red wine, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, parmesan