Penne for your thoughts: Chef Luke Holder
Pasta is one of the ultimate comfort foods — and nothing beats fresh food. It’s pre-pasta-rously tasty.
And while you can taste it in a good Italian restaurant, here the chef Luke Holder – who runs the Hartnett Holder & Co restaurant at the Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest with Michelin-starred Angela Hartnett – reveals how to make pasta at home good enough to serve to paying customers.
It also divulges advice on making excellent ready-to-use pasta and offers the best advice for seasoning, sauces and where in the supermarket to buy the best ingredients.
When it comes to making fresh pasta – usually a mixture of eggs and flour – Luke says the number of eggs you use depends on your state of decadence.
He told MailOnline Travel: ‘Depending on your state of decay, you determine how much eggs and yolks you should use. We use a rough guideline of nine egg yolks per 200g of pasta flour as a guide.
“We use very northern Italian style fresh pasta – the further south you go the less eggs are used in the pasta, with only durum wheat flour and water used in southern Italy. Italy – which is very rich in texture and leaves you with much more malleable dough if you want to make a ravioli or agnolotti type filled dough.
“It’s important to know what you want to make before you start, as some dishes lend themselves better to making egg-free dried pasta, such as spaghetti vongole.
‘When making fresh pasta a key tip is to make sure that once you have the dough together let it sit for 45 minutes to allow it to relax, otherwise when you run it through the machine it will will tend to bounce back, tightening the dough. .
“If you’re making filled pasta with fresh egg yolk-based pastry, you shouldn’t need to add water or egg wash to seal the pasta. It should be moist enough and rich to come together naturally.
And wait with the flour while you put the pasta in the machine.
Luke says, “If the dough is sticky, just give it a light dusting of flour each time before running it through the machine. The most common mistake when making fresh pasta is letting it stick to the rolling blades of the machine. Dust lightly but often and make sure your pasta maker is securely fastened to the worktop otherwise rolling pasta becomes next to impossible.
Life is full of pasta: Luke runs the Hartnett Holder & Co restaurant at the Lime Wood Hotel in the New Forest with Michelin-starred Angela Hartnett (right)
And what are the do’s and don’ts of cooking ready-made pasta?
Luke says, “There’s a lot of folklore around ensuring dried pasta doesn’t stick together.
“I often hear the advice to add olive oil to the water, or to season the pasta only after cooking. This is all nonsense to me.
“The key is to make sure your pasta water is well seasoned – it tastes like seawater.” Seasoning is a state of being and not an action!
Without a doubt, the best value parmesan on the market today is Lidl’s 3 Year Old. At £14.50 per kg it’s a bargain
“Make sure you cook your pasta in enough water – the higher the volume of water, the better.” Think three for one, water to pasta.
‘Once you have added the dried pasta to the rapidly boiling water, keep moving – stirring until the water returns to a boil. This will prevent the pasta from sticking.
“Always remember that whatever sauce you are going to serve with your pasta, reserving some of the boiling pasta water will always be a fantastic addition.”
More on the all-important sauce?
Luke says, “Adding tomato puree is a common mistake. Don’t – it makes the sauce thick and heavy.
“Add a splash of quality red wine vinegar – and if possible, add high quality canned tomatoes, especially San Marzano DOP tomatoes, as they are grown on volcanic soil and have incredible flavor. Personally, I always add chili flakes with the onions, garlic, and olive oil before adding the vinegar.
Is there anything Luke does in his professional kitchen that an amateur doesn’t?
It says, “Reserve your Parmesan crusts and add to boiling pasta water or make a Parmesan stock by boiling the crusts in water for three hours and use it to add to your sauces or to cook the pasta.
“To finish, we add a touch of garlic oil – fresh garlic grated in olive oil – at the very end, which spiced up the whole dish.”
And what are the must-have brands that home cooks should buy from the supermarket for pasta dishes?
Luke says: ‘The key is to make sure your pasta water is well seasoned – it tastes like seawater. Seasoning is a state of being, not an action’
Luke says: “To me, it’s always worth spending the money on good quality aged parmesan cheese, great quality tinned tomatoes and wonderful anchovies – all three of these items will transform your pasta dishes and make it easier for you task.
“They will also stay in your store cupboard until you need them.
“Avoid cheap quality anchovies. That’s why people don’t like anchovies! And never substitute parmesan with other cheeses. Nothing replaces Parmigiano Reggiano!
“The best Parmesan cheese on the market today is undoubtedly Lidl’s Three Year Old. At £14.50 per kg it’s a real bargain. The aged Parmesan cheese is such a treat and will add the undeniable joy umami paired with Ortiz anchovies and Rega San Marzano DOP canned tomatoes, it would be hard to make anything that didn’t taste absolutely delicious.
Hartnett Holder & Cie To Linden turns 10 this year. To celebrate this landmark, Angela and Luke will host a series of guest chefs with some of HH&Co’s oldest chef friends throughout the year. The first dinner in the series will take place on May 16 with renowned chefs Nathan Outlaw, Valentine Warner and Neil Borthwick. The following dinner will take place on September 13 with star chefs of a similar caliber yet to be announced alongside Angela and Luke.
HH&Co will also launch a partnership with PatchPatch to create a limited-edition HH&Co menu box, which will be available exclusively nationwide this summer.