Upslope Pale Ale makes handmade pasta worth the effort

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While making a pasta dish to cheer up my girlfriend last week, I thought to myself, "Why not make my own pasta?" I'd been fortunate enough to taste fresh pasta and knew that it's vastly more satisfying than dried, but I had yet to make it myself -- but soon became determined to do so.

Conveniently, I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. The only thing I was missing was a rolling machine, but seeing as how humans have been making pasta without them for thousands of years, I figured that wouldn't be much of a setback.

Come to find out, rolling pasta by hand is hard work and takes quite a lot of time, and I'll admit that it took me a practice run to get it right. My first attempt was less than successful, but it was also one of the most satisfying labors in which I've ever endeavored. The act brought me closer to myself in a way that's hard to describe.

In order to let the pasta truly shine, I decided on a fairly basic preparation of butter, salt, pepper and oregano. Some might not consider such a simple dish a real meal, but when paired with an equally simple full-bodied ale, it definitely is. I took a walk to the liquor store to pick up a sixer of Upslope Brewing's Pale Ale, one of my favorite ales from one of my new favorite breweries.

The pasta was lovely: light and fresh, sweet and savory. The beer was the perfect accompaniment, as well, its malty sweetness accentuated by the buttery dish and its fizzy carbonation pleasantly cutting through the starchiness of the meal.

Here's the recipe:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 4 large eggs 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped Salt and pepper

1. On a clean surface, pour out flour and form a well in the middle. 2. Add eggs to the middle and gently beat to combine. 3. While beating, slowly incorporate flour into the mix, rebuilding the walls of the well as you go. 4. Once a loose dough is formed, begin kneading it with both hands, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky. 5. Once the dough becomes a single mass, remove and scrap away any leftover bits. 6. Lightly flour the surface and continue to knead dough until it's smooth (about 3 minutes). 7. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes. 8. Divide dough into eighths and roll each section out with a rolling pin until it's transparent enough to see your hand through. 9. Using a pizza cutter, trim edges to form dough into rectangular shapes. 10. Bring a large pot of judiciously salted water to boil. 11. Slice strips lengthwise. 12. Boil pasta to taste, and transfer it straight from the pot to a large mixing bowl, skipping the strainer. 13. Add butter, freshly ground pepper and oregano, and gently toss until the butter has melted.

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