Tajarin Ricchi -- Rich Tajarin
Every region of Italy has a type of pasta, and this is what one finds in the Langhe of Piemonte. The pasta are quite similar to tagliatelle (also known as fettuccine) but cut very finely -- the strands should be 1/6th of an inch, about 2 mm, wide. Cutting them this thin is a demonstration of skill on the part of the cook, and in the past one can be certain that every woman who frequented a kitchen (in other words, all but the wealthy) learned the art while still a girl. Here's a "traditional" recipe from a book entitled Ricette di Cucina del Piemonte:
- 10 cups (1 k) fine white flour
- 30 egg yolks
- A pinch of salt.
Make a mound of the flour, scoop a well into it, and add the yolks and the salt. Knead the dough well for at least 15 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Then roll it out dime-thin with a rolling pin, dust it lightly with fine cornmeal, and roll it up. Using a long-bladed, sharp knife, cut the roll into tajarin. Shake them out, and cook them very briefly -- a minute, or two at the most -- in abundant salted water.
I put traditional in quotes, because Giovanna Giordano, who supplied the recipe, notes that the lavish use of egg yolks is relatively recent. In the past, when eggs were seasonal, they were a valuable commodity, and many people simply did without, using water instead (especially farmers, who preferred to sell their eggs for cash -- more on the peasant diet). Feel free to reduce the number of yolks and use whole eggs instead, but keep in mind that you will want an egg or the equivalent volume of egg yolks per cup (100 g) of flour (more on the evolution of the Italian diet).
Tajarin are divine (and aphrodisiacal) served with sweet butter, a liberal dose of freshly shaved white truffles, and a light dusting of grated Parmigiano. They're also quite nice with unsalted butter and grated cheese, or with meat sauce.