As fall creeps onto the calendar, our days get shorter, our nights get longer and before we know it, the season of holiday eating is upon us. Autumn is a time of harvest and while some of us in North America may think of pumpkins and apples, people around the world celebrate the harvest as a return to the basics, a return to mother nature. It’s a time for appreciation and celebration.
There is no better way to celebrate than with family and friends and few dishes enjoyed more than pasta, especially homemade pasta, if you have the right tools.
A torchio (also called a bigolaro) is a traditional Venetian hand press famous for making bigoli, a thick whole-wheat spaghettoni.
Originally made with whole-wheat flour and duck eggs, the dough is kneaded until hard and allowed to rest. After resting, it’s cut into strips and fed through the top of the torchio. The handle is cranked and as the bigoli emerge from the die at the bottom, they are rubbed in flour to keep them from sticking together.
Once the dough has been cut into strands, it’s boiled in salt water and served in a traditional onion and anchovy salsa or a duck ragout.
The whole-wheat flour gives this pasta a nutty flavor, and if onions and anchovies are not to your liking, you can try bigoli with a range of other sauces and meats. Bigoli and chicken livers make a great alternative.
However, the key to making bigoli is the torchio, as you cannot have true bigoli without one. The torchio is completely manual and mounts to any countertop or workbench. It can produce 17 ounces (480 grams) of pasta and comes with two metal die—one for bigoli and one for gargati (rigatoni.) Unlike some electric pasta machines, the torchio extrudes pasta from the bottom instead of the side, reducing the chance of pasta breakage.
It's the perfect addition to any kitchen!
Chef Bruno Quercini from the Pane e Vino Trattoria in San Francisco was kind enough to give us his recipe for Bigoli Al Ragu Di Anatra.
- 1 whole duckling
- 2 diced yellow onions
- 2 diced shallots
- 2 cups of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1 cup of concentrated tomato puree
- 2 cups of duck sauce (made from the bones)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary and sage
- 1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms soaked in water
- ½ cup of balsamic vinegar
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ cup of Grana Padano cheese
- 4 ounces of bigoli pasta (per serving)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove neck, gizzards, and wings from duck. Add salt and pepper to taste and bake for 1 hour in a roasting pan until crispy.
- Drain fat from the duck, debone meat and dice ½ inch thick.
- Deglaze the roasting pan with balsamic vinegar and after evaporating, add 2 cups of chicken broth and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a large saucepan add olive oil, onions, shallots, rosemary and sage and cook until golden brown.
- Add diced duck meat to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add red wine.
- When ingredients are reduced to dry, add the tomato puree, 2 cups of chicken broth, 2 cups of duck sauce (from bones,) chopped porcini mushrooms and the deglaze from the roasting pan.
- Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- In a large pot of salted water boil the bigoli pasta (4 ounces per serving) and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Drain pasta.
- Toss it with duck ragout.
- Sprinkle with Grana Padano cheese and Buon Appetito.