Description: Orecchiette translates to little ears in italian. This pasta shape has a few names depending on the size and region of italy. It was very common in the poor region of Puglia to add a bit of grano arso (burnt grain) because it was much cheaper than normal wheat flour.
Dough: Grano Arso
Region: Central and southern Italy, especially Puglia.
Traditional Sauce: Broccoli, vegetables or a meat sauce.
Check out our grano arso orecchiette with sausage and broccoli here!
For portioning I do 100g of flour per person.
Grano Arso (Burnt Grain) Orecchiette
Smoky, toasted and ashy notes of grano arso flour are the start in this orecchiette.
Prepare the pasta
Weigh out your flour and water, making sure the water is very warm. I aim for around 90-100 degrees F. Mix together in a bowl into a shaggy dough starts to form. Dump on a counter or wooden board and knead for 10 minutes.See link in the description for more details on making the dough.
Knead the dough
Dump on a counter or wooden board and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be very elastic and spring back when touched and almost feel like playdough (see notes below). Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
Shaping the orecchiette
Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. While working with one piece at a time keep the rest covered with a damp kitchen towel to avoid the dough from drying out.
Roll the dough into a snake around 1/2" diameter. With a bench scraper or knife, cut the dough into 1/4-1/2" pieces depending on the final size you would like. Place the a dull knife on the edge of the dough and press down, dragging the dough. Remove from the knife and fold inside out to create an 'ear' shape.
It is best to shape the dough on a wood surface such as a cutting board. The wood allows just the right amount of friction. The dough would just slide across a marble counter.See gallery for detailed pictures.
Drying and cooking
You can either cook the orecchiette fresh or dry it.
Fresh: Cook the orecchiette for just a couple minutes in heavily salted boiling water.
Dried: Let try completely for several hours or overnight. Depending on the humidity it may take upto a full day or more. Cook for 12-15 minutes in in heavily salted boiling water. Due to their shape and density they take much longer to cook dried. They should be al-dente but not hard in the middle.