Dish Inspiration: 454 Malloreddus & Squash

454 Malloreddus & Sage Roasted Squash
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First on menu: 11/15
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Created by: Soa Davies
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Malloreddus Pasta, Parmesan Sauce, Sage Roasted Delicata Squash, Caramelized Red Onion, Pancetta, Sautéed Broccoli, Fennel.
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Maple uses Sfoglini’s Malloreddus pasta in our Malloreddus & Sage Roasted Squash. It’s a special saffron pasta, and we wanted to learn more about, so we hopped a train to Brooklyn to chat with the creators themselves.

When you walk into Sfoglini, there is an overwhelming smell of freshly-made pasta. It hangs in the air like a light dust. Maybe that’s the flour. Either way, it’s lovely. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Steve Gonzalez, part owner and overseer of the company’s pasta making operations, who was in the midst of preparing bratwurst sandwiches with his two man staff for lunch. Music was blasting, as it should be in any great kitchen. Not just any music, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.” These guys mean business, and Gonzalez approached us ready to get down on the topic of pasta. “You guys want to talk about the Malloreddus, right? We’re gonna make that for you.”

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Steve went to turn down the music, a bittersweet but necessary move. We spoke briefly on the history of Malloreddus. “It’s a traditional pasta. It’s pretty much Cavatelli, a small shell pasta. In Sardinia, where it originates, they have a lot of saffron, so they use it because it’s an available resource.” The malloreddus that Sfoglini makes is the same as would it would traditionally be made, with just three ingredients: saffron, water and flour.

Sfoglini has this great machine. Picture a meat grinder, where you can take off the front face to change the size of the grind. It’s the same for pasta. All of their cuts are run through this single machine and dropped out onto large mesh trays where they will dry for close to 15 hours in a controlled environment.

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As the flour and water are mixing, saffron that has been combined with water in a blender is poured in. Gonzalez goes to the back of the machine and peers over the edge where the dough is being formed, as he sifts his fingers through the mixing flour, testing its consistency. Although the pasta is being formed by a machine, it is watching this interaction that makes it feel as if the product is still hand made.

Watching the machine is mesmerizing. It spits out these perfectly formed shells onto the drying racks, one after the other until all of the dough has gone through. We stand back and watch as Steve talks about the drying process. “The crucial thing is the temperature. Once you go above 105 degrees fahrenheit, you start to denature all of the natural vitamins. That’s why enriched macaroni product exists. They have to add back in everything they’ve taken out. We try not to go above 108.”

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The room at this point, has fallen silent. What the music used to fill before we arrived has now turned into a space that feels meditative, calm, and repetitive in the best way. Water, flour, saffron, repeat. There is an abundance of sun coming through the floor to ceiling windows that complete the room. It is a warm moment, and I wonder how long these guys will go without having to exchange words, pouring and mixing hand over fist until the last of the shells have been formed.