I have already shared my stock fresh pasta method on this blog, but for the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about making pasta using duck eggs. It is a simple truth: DUCK EGGS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER. I have a friend who, when he dines out, literally cannot resist any menu item that includes a duck egg. For once I’m not talking about myself – but I too am enthralled by duck eggs. I love the iron richness of duck egg yolk and the way the yolk is so much more unctuous, so silky and luxurious, compared to the yolk of a hen’s egg. When you add a duck egg to something, the egg is the thing: it’s not just a garnish; it becomes the centrepiece of a dish.
Fresh pasta is best if it’s made with really nice eggs, so it stands to reason that it would be even more delicious made with duck eggs. Although I usually add some semolina flour to my fresh pasta dough to give it heft, this dough is made only using Tipo 00 (finely milled low gluten pasta flour). The resulting pasta is delicate, light, beautifully yellow-orange, and profoundly ducky. Serve this pasta with homemade Bolognese or other meaty sauces, or use it for ravioli or lasagne.
2 whole duck eggs
3 duck egg yolks
400 grams (about nine ounces) Tipo 00 flour
[Caveat: I make my pasta by hand. If you have a food processor and/or a pasta attachment to a stand mixer, that’s great – but you’re on your own, as I’ve never used a machine to make pasta.]
Crack your duck eggs into a bowl and add the three yolks, reserving the whites for another use. (I’ve read that duck egg whites are great for baking.) Put your flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the duck eggs into the well and beat them with a fork, gradually pulling in flour from the sides.
Eventually it will become difficult to continue to use your fork. Abandon the fork and use your fingers to pull and mix the rest of the dough. Depending on variables such as the size of your duck eggs, your altitude, and the dryness of the air in your kitchen, you may not be able to work in all the flour. That’s fine. When it’s a nice stiff dough (stiff is important so that your pasta isn’t too fragile to roll thin), turn it out onto a board and knead it by hand until it is silky and smooth (at least five to ten minutes).
Wrap the dough in plastic and allow it to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. Cut the dough into chunks about the size of a child’s fist (sorry, I can’t think of a better analogy). You can wrap whatever you’re not using immediately and refrigerate it for about a day or two for another recipe. Flour each piece well, flatten it slightly, and pass it through the machine’s widest setting. Fold it in thirds like an envelope and pass it through again. Repeat this a couple more times, then roll the dough to your desired thickness, flouring it liberally to keep it from sticking and pulling.
When your pasta sheets are as thin as you want them, hang them to dry on a pasta rack, or, like me, you can use the back of a chair. If you’re simply cutting your pasta into linguine, dry for about 15-20 minutes or until the pasta has stiffened but not become dry. If you’re making ravioli or lasagne, you can cut it sooner.
Makes about 700 grams (about a pound and a half) of fresh pasta, or about 8 servings.