Pici originated in Tuscany, Italy and really is as rustic as it gets. No machines or fancy equipment required—just your cute little hands and a little upper body strength. Upper body strength, you ask? Oh I said it right—it’s not for the weak; but poor housewives did it for centuries so don’t be a wuss.
Before we go any further, let me introduce you to the Ashton Family. (From left to right) Charlie, Bandit and Cooper
When the Ashton Family headed to Tuscany for a recent vacation, they got one of those Tuscan housewives to teach them how to make Pici. On a recent trip to their house, I got a chance to learn the tradition, and I have to say it was some pretty amazing pasta and surprisingly easy to make. What makes it so different from other pastas is the texture; instead of it being like typical pasta that we’re all accustomed to, it was slightly doughy, but firm. And it absorbed the sauce really well making it much more flavorful than any other pasta I’ve had before.
Hand-rolled Pici Pasta
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups of lukewarm water
With the flour create 4 wells–exactly like the picture above. 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 a little 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. You’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.
Salt a large pot of water and put over high heat until boiling.
Roll the dough into long dowels about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Place the pasta strands between 2 hands and lightly roll back and forth to create a lightly spiraled, snake-like noodle. Place the pici on a sheet tray that has been dusted with semolina flour, cover the pasta with a clean dish towel, and set aside until ready to use.
Place pici carefully in boiling water for 5 minutes for al dente.