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Bigoli, Bigolaro, Bigolarist (page 2 of 2)

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My largest and most unusual pasta-making accessory, the bigolaro, made 28 fat spaghettis, called bigoli, each as long as the room. Served with the traditional duck ragł, this made my guests very happy despite the fact they had to make their own pasta.
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The duck flesh is traditionally served a second course with mostarda, but nowadays people commonly add it to the ragł. That's what I do here. Carve the flesh from the carcass ...

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... and chop it into bits. You can discard the carcass or use it to make more duck stock, but frankly with the quantity I already had on hand, it was a dead duck to me.

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Here is your mise en place - it's important to get all your ducks in a row before the action.

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Heat a little olive oil in a large pot and fry the chopped onions until soft, then add the carrot, garlic and celery.

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Fry for a minute, move to one side ...

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... then add the offal and toss until it turns grey all over.

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Add the cinammon and bay leave...

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...and the tomato.

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Toss and add half a cup of duck stock.

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Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 45 minutes.

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Add the duck meat shortly before serving.

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If the sauce is too runny you can thicken it with a little butter, cream or mascarpone. Don't forget that we have removed most of the duck's fat, including its skin, and that this ragł is way lighter than what Venitian farmers used to make. You can afford a little milk fat.

You saw my meal's finale at the top of the article, and I just showed you how I cooked the ragł the day before. Now let me show how to make the bigoli dough. It is no duck soup but with proper instructions you'll be successful.

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Traditionally bigoli were made from regular white or wholewheat flour and sometimes even with buckwheat flour. These are all inferior flours when it comes to pasta making and were seen as a cheaper substitute for the durum wheat semolina from the South of Italy. The present day gourmet who can afford a bigolaro is thus faced with a choice. Either go for the traditional regular flour bigoli and have softer pasta, or add a little durum wheat semolina to give the pasta more bite. Present day Venitian bigolarists often use a mix of both. I used 3oz / 100gr durum semolina per guest...

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... and the same amount of regular white flour. Add one egg per guest, a bit of salt and a teaspoon olive oil.

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Mix until smooth, adding a little water or flour as needed to get the hardest dough you can still knead. To get proper bigolis you need a super-dry, concrete-block sort of dough. Do not try this with the smooth dough for tagliatelle or your bigoli will stick to one another as they exit the bigolaro.

Ball the dough, cover in foil and set aside until the guests arrive.

To see how we made the bigoli, go to the top of the article.

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Bring the duck stock to a rolling boil, adding water if needed. Plunge the bigolis in the stock in one go (don't forget we have 28 bigolis each as long as the room - you can't do this by batch!).

You recall from the start of the article that I rubbed the bigolis with flour as they came out so they wouldn't stick. Unfortunately I didn't use coarse polenta flour/cornmeal as is required but used plain white flour. Much of it accumulated at the bottom of the dish and fell over my pot right after the bigoli went into the water. Big flour cloud, the stove all white and the bigolis started to stick to one another around the flour clumps. Please laugh at me all you can and use my mistake so that you won't have to make the same.

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Up with the Kuhn Rikon pasta pot strainer ...

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... and into a warm empty serving pot or dish.

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Cover with the ragł and serve. See the start of the page to see the actual meal. Many times I had poor results when entertaining with homemade pasta, but this one was a roaring success with deliciously al dente pasta, just enough bite to be firm under the tooth, a delicate egg taste and the gorgeous ragł. For a moment, I felt like the capo di tutti i capi.

 

You can buy a bigolaro directly from the only manufacturer left in the world - that I know of - Bottene Brothers in Vincenza, Italy. Write an email to Alessandra Bottene at info@bottene.net and she'll send you a pro-forma invoice, pay and they'll ship. You can find the same at a much higher price in various online shops. Bear in mind that the model I have is the best looking but not the most convenient as you have to wind up the lever entirely to refill. It comes with a little bank you sit on in order to have enough leverage to turn the levers. Please consider that the wood comes untreated and looks like cheap, poorly finished pinewood. My friend Virgilio sanded the edges and varnished it for me. The bigolaro itself is of very high quality and I recommend it to anybody with an interest for homemade pasta and unusual cookware. I paid €200 including shipping.

Published 01/08/2008
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External Comments

«Mario Batali has a recipe for bigoli with duck ragu on the Food Network, but far more interesting is Bigoli, Bigolaro, Bigolarist, a blog post/article containing photographs and recipes at FXcuisine.com, a blog devoted to memorable food experiences … and far more interesting reading material than anything you can find on this humble blog! Wow. I’m gonna click over there right now …» Mangiare Bene 24/11/2008

Copyright FXcuisine 2014 - all rights reserved.
If you do this recipe at home please let me know how it worked for you by submitting a comment or send me a picture if you can. Thanks!



65 Comments

All your posts are great, but this one is better than great! I enjoyed seeing the pasta machine turned by all your smiling guests. Was the room-length pasta cut before eating? If not, would we cut it, or maybe eat it like the Asians do with their noodles?

PS: Since you enjoy making pasta so much, you're the best person I know to ask. I've been looking at the one at: ravioliroller.com What's your opinion of these kinds of rollers, and is the linked roller any better than the others? Or do you prefer a different roller?
Dinner and entertainment! Your house must be the best place to be invited for a meal. The dish looks absolutely delicious and I'm sure having your guests help with the preparation made it even better for them. :-)
More than ever you are my hero. A technical question, how long does it take to cook the bigoli? Being egg pasta they should be quite fast, but they *are* quite thick...

Or perhaps in the middle of the flour cloud you did not have time to look at your watch.
  • #4
  • Comment by Paul McKenna
  • on: 31/07/2008
FXcuisine. Pushing the limits of what guests have to do to get fed.

Paul

Crazy, just crazy
You impress me every time - I absolutely love reading your posts, watching your photos and emerge myself in the stories you tell so well on food. A pleasure!
  • #6
  • Comment by Jason
  • on: 31/07/2008
Thank you FX! A fantastic story with lots of peaks and even a disaster.
  • #7
  • Comment by Martin
  • on: 31/07/2008
You discarded the duck fat? Are you mad, FX? Just kiddin', but you do realize chefs refer to "the miracle of duck fat" because anything fried in it becomes extra-delicious. Waste not, want not.
  • #8
  • Comment by Saxit
  • on: 31/07/2008
Sure you didn't practice before doing it? Holding a lunch/dinner like that without trying the recipe first is something I would never dare to do. :)
Oh, and it looks delicious!

The Bottene link is wrong btw, it should be www.bottene.net not www.bottene.it - the latter takes you to something else.
  • #9
  • Comment by Ouroboros
  • on: 01/08/2008
"Choked duck"?  Does that mean what I think it means?  I can only picture you, FX, running around the barnyard chasing a duck with your arms outstretched yelling, "I'M HUNGRY!  Slow down you little #$%^!", and then proceeding to throttle the duck a la Homer Simpson.

Really though, great recipe.  I get a bit nervous about cooking with any offals myself, but I love genuine Andouille sausages (butcher crafted, of course).  Go figure.
  • #10
  • Comment by thuan
  • on: 01/08/2008
What a fascinating pasta device, and a lovely view from your patio there!  Not too bad a place to have bigoli!
  • #11
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 01/08/2008
Top picture of someone wrestling with the infernal machine.
The hands are masculine but the shoes are feminine...

Whats going on Francois ?

Paul
  • #12
  • Comment by Laura C
  • on: 02/08/2008
You must have a crystal ball or something. I just read an article in one of my magazines about this pasta today. I can't remember if it was Bon Apetit, Saveur, or Gourmet.
While in Tuscany we ate a lot of pasta called picci, is this similar? It was typically served with a hearty meat sauce made with game. The best was with wild boar.
  • #13
  • Comment by bill
  • on: 02/08/2008
Never, ever, ever discard duck fat. Duck fat is the avian analog to lard, and as such is a valuable fat to add a delicious savor to whatever has the good fortune to be fried in it. Fry some potatoes in duck fat, sprinkle some good salt, and you will never discard duck fat again.
  • #14
  • Comment by paresh
  • on: 03/08/2008
nice recipe, thanks for sharing.
  • #15
  • Comment by Jude
  • on: 03/08/2008
This is an amazing post, as is everything else in your site. That extruder looks like fun.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Jude, thanks for your visit, it is indeed great fun to operate the mighty bigolaro!
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Bill, oh yes I know all about duck fat, but the duck fat that comes out of a boil duck is not very appetizing and you can buy clean duck fat for pennies around here, I have several cans in my pantry.
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Laura, I think Tuscans also make bigoli or spaghetoni using a similar device, but cannot confirm wether "picci" would be the same. That“s one piece of cookware you cannot do without!
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Paul, there must be something wrong with my photographic lens if my picture made you think Cynthia“s hands were not in style with her fancy shoes. Both belong to the same person - a distinguished lady.
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Thuan, indeed it is a rather scenic bigoli joint!
  • #21
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Ouroboros, I don“t strangle my ducks myself, but indeed those are strangled ducks rather than bled ducks, so that the blood remains in the meat.
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Saxit, you got me here, yes in fact I did a small batch two nights before and had a backup plan in case the bigolis turned into a disaster. But they didn“t! Thanks for the link I have fixed it now.
  • #23
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Martin, yes duck fat is great but really the stuff that floats on top of the stock pot the next day is not hugely appetizing and it doesn“t taste like anything. Much better to buy your duck fat in a pot, methinks.
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Andrea, thanks for your kind words! This was a rather successful lunch I think, despite the flour cloud explosion!
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Paul, yes next time they might have to slaughter their own pigs - who knows? Once I invited friends and made them - with their joyful approval - create tortellinis from scratch. They still talk about it.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Walter, thank you! The bigolis, like most fresh pasta, cook in under 90 seconds. Really it“s a matter of getting the water hot, then pouring everything in at the same time, make sure nothing sticks, and then taste a bit and remove swiftly. Anyway they continue to cook in the sauce so all you really need is 60 seconds flat.
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Fran thanks for your praise! Yes I was pretty satisfied with the way I treated by guests this day, they seemed to find the whole think entertaining and tasty. It“s a difficult balance, as when you do the fancy bit with the bigolaro, you raise expectactions. They think “This better be good - real good“, so if you fail to deliver the meal becomes memorable in the opposite sense.
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/08/2008
Shreela, thanks for visiting! The bigolis actually cut themselves while serving, and if my guests had started to eat them Chinese-style, making the noise of a thousand cows being machine-milked, I“d have kicked them out I think. But that“s personal. For the raviolis if you can buy this for 10$ or so, go ahead, otherwise I“d recommend starting with a simple pastry cutting wheel, this costs nothing and you can buy old ones from Ebay. They are way cool to use.
  • #29
  • Comment by Alys
  • on: 04/08/2008
Great pasta tools that you have! It sounds like a fabulous dining adventure.

But, fx, if you discard your duck fat how will you ever make duck confit? I agree with all of the posters who note duck fat is superior for many dishes. As it is mild in flavour I also use the fat to make pastry for savoury pies.

  • #30
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 08/08/2008
test
  • #31
  • Comment by Una Smith
  • on: 09/08/2008
Please send your duck fat to my house, special delivery.  Every molecule of it will be savored, spread on brötzeln still fresh from the oven.  Oh, oh, food attack.  Gotta go!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/08/2008
Una, heart attack after the food attack with that much duck fat. But hey, what a pleasant way to go!
  • #33
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 12/08/2008
Alys, I am not a fiend for duck confit, but perhaps for a good cassoulet I'd make an exception!
  • #34
  • Comment by Cynthia
  • on: 14/08/2008
Have I told you lately how much I love your blog. I learn so much and get inspired with each post. You are the best.
  • #35
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 15/08/2008
Cynthia, thanks for your kinds words!
You are amazing...I so respect what you do I so wish I lived close so I could be a guest at your dinners...
  • #37
  • Comment by Jordan Chandler
  • on: 16/08/2008
Could you post the exact recipe ingredients, or did I miss it somewhere on the page?

I have a duck defrosting right now :)

  • #38
  • Comment by jensenly
  • on: 18/08/2008
Whoa!  I kinda freaked at the duck head and the gizzard-thingy, but I told myself I need to be a more grown-up foodie and embrace the entire cycle of cooking.  I should probably go and spend a week on a farm or something.

Nice post, Francios!
  • #39
  • Comment by diva
  • on: 20/08/2008
That's one super cool piece of equipment! makes pasta making seem all the more fun! And the bigoli is fat - just the right size. Mmmm.
  • #40
  • Comment by Sarah
  • on: 20/08/2008
Positively beautiful.  I love your recipes!  This looks delicious, and very labor intensive, and daunting as well.  You see, I have never dealt with bones in mt cooking, much less a whole duck, head still fully attached.
My favorite pictures in this post include the one of your friend (Peter?) sitting on the bigolaro looking thrilled to be there!  As well as the duck carcass draped across the biglaro, neck limp, cooking accoutrements gathered around.  
  • #41
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 20/08/2008
Sarah, the duck ragł is a little work but so fun, it's no longer work but pleasure! I like to get the whole bird to understand better the food and where it comes from. If you can't look the carcass in the eye, better become a veggie! Peter had great fun, the bigolaro part is really easy and it works every time. Next week I'll show another recipe with the bigolaro - visit again soon!
  • #42
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 20/08/2008
Diva, thanks for visiting, the bigolaro is indeed great fun although the bench is a bit flimsy, it made a nasty crack after a very lean lady sat on it!
  • #43
  • Comment by Mary Sanavia
  • on: 15/09/2008
Thank you for sharing your delicious bigolaro adventure with all of us. All your pictures look so beautiful and delicious!!! my kind of party!!!
  • #44
  • Comment by robert piro
  • on: 23/09/2008
I hate to rain on anyone's parade but I have a torchio, the Venetian name for the machine. First, it does not come with clamps so you need to permanently attach it to a table two inches thick. Second, you need to load the machine FROM THE BOTTOM which means you have to turn the table upside down to do this. Third, cleaning the dies and the cylinder are a real bitch. Fourth, real Venetian bigoli should contain at least some whole wheat flour and must contain some warm milk and melted butter. Bottom line, I love the machine. It  is beautiflly made. The fact that it extrudes straight down (rather than sideways as with other machines) make it easier to produce pasta that doesn't stick together.Didn't care for the cinnamon stick in your sauce, it made the sauce too sweet tasting. I like bigoli better with the other famous bigoli sauce-------anchovies and onion. Loved your article. RJP
  • #45
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 23/09/2008
Robert, thanks for your visit! Yes you are right, some bigolari are not as user-friendly as others. I know that bigolari traditionalists use whole wheat flour and I use some sometimes. But Italian cuisine would still be cooking teats if there was no progress, and nowadays many people including in Veneto, use regular flour when making bigoli. The original recipes used wholewheat tender flour, as hardwheat flour was too expensive for people from the North of Italy. But if they could have afforded hardwheat flour, the same Veneto farmers would probably have used it. Cinammon does not sauces sweet, our brain does if we are fixated on the usual associations of cinammon with sugar. But it works great in ragus, you should try it once, just a little piece to humor me.
  • #46
  • Comment by Linda
  • on: 30/12/2008
A friend of mine just forwarded your site to me and I LOVE IT - the bigoli are great. I also own one, which is called a torchio. It belonged to my grandmother in Italy, and my father made the bench for me. You can see it on my blog, ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com. I found it very difficult to get the right consistency of dough. It kept sticking coming out of the machine, even though the dough was made with 100 pct semolina, and it was extremely hard to crank. I will try you suggestion of mixing semolina with regular flour. The duck ragout look exquisitely delicious and a perfect complement to the bigoli. bravo. I'll be checking your posts frequently from now on.
Linda
  • FX's answer→ Hello Linda, thanks for visiting! It must really be great to have a bigolaro/torchio passed on from your grandmother, a real family heirloom to create many happy feasts in the future. You need to have a very crumbly dough, you could even try some dough that looks like crumble on apple crumble rather than a proper dough. Very, very little liquid. In fact traditional bigolis were made with whole wheat soft grain, not durum semolina which was a thing grown in the South and that farmers in the North could not afford nor grow. But durum semolina has superior qualities for pasta.

  • #48
  • Comment by Evan
  • on: 14/03/2009
Hello Francois,

Just wondering--what proportions do you use for the bottarga/lemon juice/olive oil mixture? Looks delicious.

Best

Evan
  • FX's answer→ Evan, try with a tablespoon of grated bottarga for 2 as a main course, add a tablespoon of oil and a teaspoon of lemon. Then taste and adjust accordingly.

  • #50
  • Comment by Patty
  • on: 11/05/2009
Hi Francois,
I was thinking about buying a torchio thanks to you I found the place. The funny thing is that I live about 1 hour away from it :-). I would like to know the number of the torchio you bought, I was thinking about n. 6 or B what do you think? Thanks in advance. Patty
Dear FX, last weekend I wanted to make pasta, but since I don't own a bigolaro yet I used a meat grinder -the type you use to make sausages-. If you remove the knives, it extrudes pasta just fine. It does need some cranking, of course, but that works as an appetizer.

The sticking-together problem is of course a bitch, but perhaps I will find a way to mount it vertically...
  • FX's answer→ Hey, I did bigoli twice this week already, yesterday with rye flour! Is the crank on your sausage machine long enough to permit turning by hand?

Apparently yes, it is very good exercise! I noticed one funny thing, that is that if I run the crank a bit fast the pasta comes out warm - not hot - must be all the shear stress in the cochlea.

But really, the meat grinder is not made for doing these sorts of things. Cleaning it up has taken a lot of time, I kept finding little hidden corners where pasta had taken up residence.
  • #54
  • Comment by mario kristal
  • on: 03/09/2009
hi! where i can find the “bigolaro“'?
thank you.
Mario.
  • FX's answer→ Mario, you can look up Bottene figli on the Internet as explained in the article

  • #56
  • Comment by Eddie Chan
  • on: 14/11/2009
Experienced my 1st ever bigoli all'anitra last night in Sasorosso in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - small ristorante runned by a Milanese native. Totally bowled over by this amazing pasta dish - the deep rich flavors are such a departure from a regular bolognese. Loved it so much I did a search and found your site. Now I know the "secret recipe"! Great photography. Thanks.  
  • #57
  • Comment by David Llewellyn
  • on: 17/11/2009
What a great article.  I spent a whole day finding a bigolero outside Padova five years ago.  I have made bigoli with both 00 flour and eggs (1 egg per 100 gms of flour) and with a recipe that calls for milk.  I like your desription of how to keep the bigoli separated.  I think I agree that the dough must be very stiff.  I will try the 1/2 semolina, 1/2 plain flour and one egg recipe and see if it doesn't work better.  Thanks for a grear article.  By the way, where can I get the bench?  It would not fit on the plane back to the U.S.  I have attached the bigolero/torchio to a board and clamp the board to my counter.  But I would prefer the bench.
  • #58
  • Comment by Craig
  • on: 18/01/2010
Discard the duck fat? What is wrong with you....

Ever heard of confit?

I know you have so why don't you update the article.
  • FX's answer→ Craig, duck fat to fry potatoes is fine, but a pund of duck fat dissolved in a sauce is absolutely revolting and will get people sick. And I don't like confit, to me it's a ghastly way of cooking parts of duck people don't buy (legs) in rendered fat. They are always overcooked and dry. Much better this way with a duck you buy whole.

  • #60
  • Comment by Michael
  • on: 29/03/2010
Did I get it right? 100 g of regular white flour plus 100 g of durum semolina plus one egg + (olive oil) per person for the bigolaro? This is about double of the amount of flour I normally use for pasta ... Thank you for the great article!
  • #61
  • Comment by amy
  • on: 14/11/2010
Hi, can you reccomend where to purchase bigoli press and garganelli comb?
  • #62
  • Comment by Richard
  • on: 31/12/2010
I very much enjoy your blogs, articles, recipes, excellent photographs, and-- especially-- your sense of humor!  I just today received my bigolaro, along with all four of the dies.  I am anxious to try it out that weekend.  I recently purchased a vintage chitarra on eBay, and have had great fun using that interesting kitchen device.

My question is, where can one purchase the bench for the bigolaro?  Or are their "plans" for the one pictured on your website?  I really like the style of that one, and am wondering where one can be purchased (however, my father-in-law is a master craftsman and could easily make one if plans are available.

Thanks for all of your helpful information!  I really enjoy reading everything that you write.  
  • #63
  • Comment by Marco
  • on: 02/02/2011
Great post!!!  Love that piece of kit.  Will look for one next time I'm in Italy.  I've had an Imperia pasta machine with every possible attachement (including raviol, raviolinini, cannelonni) they offer for more than 15 years.  Have also had the cheap (original) Kenwood pasta extruder - the plastic one.  It is OK, but never got that good of a result and they only have 6 dies.  Just bought the metal Kenwood attachment - it has 13 dies, all in brass.  Not quite as interesting as your bigoli press, but looking forward to trying your duck ragu soon. It does have a bigoli die - but not the same as your fantastic press.
  • FX's answer→ Marco, you won't find this machine in Italy, it is very local to Vincenza, and there is only one maker of new ones. The Kenwood bronze (I think it's bronze and not brass) extruder is really well-made but indeed, the bigolaro is more fun for guests and really original. The amount of torque needed is unbelievable. You really need to have the bench - it just won't work otherwise. If you ever visit Switzerland let me know and perhaps I can give you a demonstration!

  • #65
  • Comment by Gigi
  • on: 11/08/2011
Hi Fx, love your blog & your details instruction.  The only problem is, I live in the US, and I would like to purchase both the garganelli comb and the bigoli machine.  I don't speak Italian so how do I order these fancy gadgets?  Thanks so much

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