The carnival is a very popular festival loved by both adults and children, and is characterized by costumes, masks, and parades in the streets. It is linked to the Christian tradition, like the etymology of the name says. In fact, it is thought that it derives from the Latin carnem levare (“eliminate the meat”) in reference to the banquet held on Shrove Tuesday, the last day of Carnival, before the fasting period starts. At culinary level, there are many typical sweets that characterized the carnival period. However, we will focus on Carnival and tradition with pasta.
Some first courses related to the Carnival
The first dishes related to the Carnival are rich and often composed of fat and tasty ingredients. In addition to the Neapolitan Carnival lasagne, there are other typical dishes. One of them is the bucatini omelette, a first plate “masked” as second, easy to prepare and very nutritious. Another dish is colored pasta, inspired by Arlecchino’s dress: It has a tasty flavor and is extremely “scenic”.
Neapolitan Carnival lasagna
In Naples during this time, especially for Shrove Tuesday, you can enjoy a first course that has become a real institution, the Carnival lasagna. This differs from the Bolognese lasagna, first because of the pasta, made only of durum wheat flour and without eggs. The condiment is also different, the Neapolitan one, in fact, is richer: the meat sauce is enriched with brains (typical Neapolitan sausage), fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, fior di latte, ricotta and parmesan or pecorino. Several layers are formed (at least 5-7) in which the dressing is distributed uniformly. Each family has then its own recipe that presents small variations to the “classic” preparation.
Opening a pasta laboratory: A winning choice
Pasta is a staple food in the Italian culture. As we have said several times, Italy is not only one of the world’s leading pasta producers, but it is also the country where the largest quantity is consumed. This food is a real must! Therefore, focusing your business in the food sector, and especially on pasta, can be a winning choice. After evaluating the space available for the equipment and having decided the type of pasta, it is necessary to carefully choose the pasta production machines for your laboratory.
Kneading machines, slicers, machines for stuffed or regional pastas
Some pasta production machines for laboratories are indispensable, regardless of the type of pasta you want to produce. Surely, you will have to have a kneading machine and a machine for the dough. Both must have a suitable size related to the quantity of product that you want to obtain. Depending on the type of shape that you want to produce, you may need special machines for stuffed pasta or typical regional pasta, or even sliders or gnocchi machines. If the space available is not so much, you can opt for combined units, which combine kneading machine, ravioli machines, and other elements in the same machine.
Other useful machinery
Other useful pasta production machines for laboratories are drying cabinets, pasteurisers and sterilizers. The former are used to facilitate the drying of pasta; the others are necessary – above all – for large pasta productions and if you want to sell packaged products. You can also consider the purchase of pre-cutting machines, which dry the dough on the surface by separating the product and maintaining its original shape.
We have mentioned several times that in Italy there are numerous pasta shapes. In addition to the classic spaghetti or penne, each region has a particular shape. Each type is associated with a specific seasoning or several preparations, based on its consistency and its ability to retain the sauce or based on regional recipes. The pasta shapes are generally divided into:
- long pasta, which can have a round section (like spaghetti or vermicelli), square (like spaghetti alla chitarra), rectangular (like linguine or bavette) or tubular (like bucatini) or can be “grouped” (like fettuccine or angel hair);
- short pasta, of the most varied shapes;
- filled pasta.
A tool suitable for all shapes
The counter cutters are indispensable for your laboratory. This machine allows to obtain a great variety of pasta shapes – both short and long – and all types of regional pastas. Unfortunately, even this useful tool can run into problems and it is therefore necessary to repair it.
Operation and repair
The counter cutters can be used, as the name indicates, to cut the dough directly at the counter. The operation is very simple: you have to insert a sheet of dough in the already calibrated machine and you get the finished product. There are models of various sizes and with a different number of cutting rolls in order to meet the needs of everyone.
And what if this machine breaks? As usual, it is advisable to contact a professional specialized in repairing counter cutters, such as Cocozza, which will advise you on the best solution for your machine.
The production phases of pasta
The production of pasta involves various phases. After the selection of the wheat (very important element for the determination of the quality of the finished product) and its grinding, it is time for the phase of the dough: water is added to the flour. In this way starch and proteins bind and gluten begins to form. It follows the kneading that makes the dough elastic and homogeneous. Afterwards, the dough is worked. This is how the chosen shape is given. Drying and cooling made in special coolers follow. This brings the pasta to ambient temperature and packaging.
Drying is one of the most delicate moments in pasta production. It consists in leaving the product to rest in appropriate machinery, the drying cabinets, where it is ventilated with hot air in order to reduce its moisture content up to the maximum limit of 12.5%. To reach this level, hot air currents slowly reduce the amount of moisture. The drying has a variable duration depending on the type of pasta produced. For this phase, used second-hand drying cabinets can be very useful.
The technology, the continuous research and the experience acquired in the drying phase and in the quality of pasta have allowed the development of machinery in which the various functions, once a prerogative of the skills of the operators, are now automated. These machines provide digital equipment for controlling temperature and humidity in order to obtain a high quality product.
However, it is not always possible to purchase new machines. On the market, you can also find second-hand pasta drying cabinets that work as well as new ones. The important thing, however, is to apply for the purchase to professionals like Cocozza, whose experts will show you the most suitable machinery for your needs.