We faced a lot of questions I was not prepared to answer in the first weekend of out latest iteration of American Noodles. Why should I choose one noodle over another? What is your favorite sauce to go with the noodle? What else do you like to go with the noodle?
The goal is to make the most delicious pasta possible. The goal is to use the ingredients to flavor the noodles to make the eating process pleasurable for a full serving, not just for one bite. We are continuously searching for flavors that move us. Those flavors influence our cooking. The process of cooking and the creating with those flavors shape our experiences. Those experiences becomes our food memories, influencing everything we eat and cook.
We have found that when using flavorful grains in noodle making, we must blend flours to create the best flavors and textures. The full flavor of spelt, emmer, and rye are intense and can be over the top on their own, with a bitter finish. These grains, except for the emmer, do not have enough protein to form a resilient noodle on there own. These attributes shaped our process of blending grains to achieve a noodle that is full of flavor, has great bite and chew, and is delicious enough to crush by the bowlful. In our current recipes we use 33% flavored grain blended with 66% semolina to create the full flavored, yet balanced noodles we are after. This past weekend we created spelt mezze ziti, rye pappardelle, and emmer mafaldine.
Back to the the questions I was unprepared to answer. Why choose one noodle over another? Choose the one you'd most like to eat, whether it be for the flavor or for the shape. The noodle can be a blank canvas. It can also be the catalyst for a new creation. Choose your own adventure. A flat, wide rye noodle dressed with butter and cheese is a totally different experience from a smoked semolina radiatore dressed exactly the same way. The same goes for a spelt macaroni or an emmer mafaldine finished with the same bolognese sauce and a shower of Parmigiano. Both are deliciously distinct. Imagine jalapeno linguine or whole wheat spaghetti with clam sauce. One dish will be brighter, herbal, and slightly spicy, perhaps calling for an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice, while the other will have a sweeter, earthier flavor perfect for absorbing extra brown butter and garlic to highlight the briny, sweetness of the clams. Choose your noodle, then your sauce, or vice versa, and see what delicious flavors develop.