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Back in the day, I gave Gwyneth a lesson on pasta making for her birthday, so I thought I’d test her skills and take it to a whole new level.
We didn’t quite manage the whole stretch of Southend Pier, but had a right laugh attempting a strip of pasta the entire length of mine and Jimmy’s pop-up restaurant – fun times! I’ve given you instructions on how to make your own pasta dough here – it’s really easy to do and flavour-wise you can’t beat it – but if you want to, feel free to use dried pasta, it will still serve you well. If you’re making fresh, having a decent pasta machine will really help you out.... Read more.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Cut a slit into each sausage and squeeze the meat out into a large ovenproof pan with a little olive oil. Cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as you go. Add the chopped fennel and fennel seeds, then crumble in the dried chilli. Finely chop and add the rosemary leaves, then cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the fennel has softened. Pour in the wine and passata and top up with 400ml water, give it a stir, then pop the lid on. Transfer to the oven and leave to blip away for 2 hours – check on it every 40 minutes, stirring and adding a splash of water if it starts to dry out.
Meanwhile, if you’re making fresh pasta, get on with making your dough. Add the eggs and flour to a food processor with a pinch of salt and whiz until combined. Roll the dough through a pasta machine, starting on the widest setting and working your way down to the second to last. If you don’t have a pasta machine simply divide the pasta into 6 pieces and roll each piece into nice thin sheets using a rolling pin. Once at the right thickness (you’re aiming for slightly thicker than a playing card) roll through the pappardelle cutter or lightly roll in half and over once more, then slice into 2.5cm pieces and toss to separate, dusting with flour to stop it from sticking.
Cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes in boiling salted water (or if you’re using dried pasta, cook according to packet instructions), then drain, reserving a cupful of the cooking water. Taste and check the ragu seasoning, then mix through the pasta, loosening with a splash of cooking water if needed. Divide between your plates or bowls, and finish with a grating of Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
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