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Pici pasta

  • l

I was introduced to pici pasta in Tuscany. I went to a local fresh pasta maker here in San Diego and the Italian owner told me that that pasta was made in a little town in the Tuscany region. I have been on the hunt since. I no longer hope for fresh but would be thrilled with dried. Anyone know where I can get some Pici pasta?

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  1. Divine Pasta (Cube Cafe) has Strangozzi which is almost the same, but not coiled. Tuscany2you.com has dried Pici. Fioretto in Culver City,CA has home made on the menu!!!

    1. Since I am unfamiliar with pici pasta, I googled it, anxious to see what it looked like. In the pictures I saw it looks like spaghetti to me, however some talking about it described it as an irregular shape and that you cannot make it with a pasta machine. Will you please describe to me how the pasta is shaped? What makes it so different and/or unique than regular spaghetti pasta? I am so curious now.

      Btw, I saw all kinds of recipes for it if you want to make some yourself, as well as a few suppliers who carry it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheri

        Well, I'm head over heels in love with the stuff. Long rods of pasta, the length of spaghetti and about 3/16" of an inch in diameter, and then that entire rod is twisted many times, like a cheese straw. The pasta is toothsome, fantastic, probably the best I've ever had.

        Lynne, you should just make it fresh yourself. I use Marcella's Essentials of Italian Cooking pasta recipe, then it's just a matter of Play-Do. Take little pieces, roll out long worms (dimensions above) and twist them a whole bunch. That's it. It's made all over Tuscany and everytime I've seen it, I've eaten it. I'll never forget the first time I had it when I watched the sweet dear Italian women make it in front of me in their 700-year old kitchen.

      2. I too 'discovered' it in Tuscany. And I found it at igourmet.com when I got home. Not like the fresh but very good.

        4 Replies
        1. re: alwayscooking

          Thanks for the link, but igourmet's pici doesn't look anything like real pici.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            You might want to try it. While home made may be better (depending on your pasta skills), this is toothsome like the real thing and a tad easier.

            1. re: alwayscooking

              I wouldn't mind trying the igourmet pasta. But I don't agree that it's pici. I've since gone online and looked at photos of commercially produced "pici," and dang it, none of it looks like pici. During that search, I read time and time again that pici cannot be made by a machine.

              None of the commercial pici have the characteristic shape of pici — a long, twisting strand, slightly less than a pencil in diameter. One of the assets of pici is its twisting, as well as its irregularity — a signature of hand-formed pasta — which seems to grab onto the sauce better. Another is the textural difference that comes from a fresh pasta that is also thick — the toothsome-ness is both soft and resistant, and I’ve never found that quality even in the best-made commercial pasta. Or at least that’s my take.

              This is a rather charming video that shows pici being made for Mario Batali and Mark Bittman. This woman’s technique is perfect of course, as is the final radically simple dish. In the video, Olga rolls out the dough, cuts it into fettucine-width strips, then twists each strip and rolls and stretches it at the same time. This produces very long strands of pici.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbHMhB...

              Rather than rolling out the pasta and cutting it into strands, I have also seen Italian women simply take a gnocchi-sized piece of pasta dough, and then do the Play-Do thing — like making “worms” as a kid: just roll it out to a spaghetti-length strand using their hands (that seems to be the length that size of dough produces), again slightly less than the width of a pencil, and then twisting each strand about ten times. That forms a thick helix- or spiral-shaped noodle, and like fusilli, it grabs onto the sauce better than an untwisted strand. No machine can do that.

              I’ve also seen pici made similar to the way Olga makes it for Batali and Bittman, twisting the long skinny fettucine-cut strand, but then not rolling it entirely into a perfectly rounded coil and instead leaving much of the twisting intact.

              Two final things: this pasta is incredibly easy and fun to make. Simply make the dough (food processor is fine -- comes together in under a minute), knead it for another minute, let it rest, then get a board with the cornmeal and flour at the ready. Additionally, this is a great dish to make with kids. My experience is that they make “worms” as good if not better than adults, and to see the look of achievement on their faces when they know they’ve made something so tasty and that feeds the entire family is really heartwarming.

              Oh wait: Pici is also called pinci, with an “n”, and that may aid you in your search, Lynne. Lots of recipes around. I like the ones that use an egg — that helps with the elasticity.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                Rolling the worms out by hand from chunks of dough is how I learned to make it, and you're right, it's dead simple. Especially when there are children around, and the adult just has to make the dough then let the kids go nuts on it. When kids form them you usually end out with a mix of coiled and uncoiled pici, but I like it that way (possibly because that's just what I've always had, though).

        2. Yes, I fell in love with it, too. What about recipes without an egg? I've seen some that use half semolina/half white flour and water, and some that use just one or the other. Does anyone have a tried and true recipe without an egg?

          1 Reply
          1. re: CookingGirl

            My people use grano duro (aka semolina, but we use a finer grind), water, salt. I've always shown folks the right consistancy rather than given proportions, so I can't give you a (useful) recipe, sorry. I could show you how to make the dough...