Help From Dedicated Pasta Makers?

A dear friend is getting into making pasta by hand, and asked me about chitarras. He wants to buy one.

I know very little about them.

Any recommendations?

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I’ve seen some video(s) “Glen and Friends” on youtube, where Glen makes the pasta dough in a food processor, then cuts it by hand.

Personally, I make up my pasta dough, knead it (by hand) until I’m satisfied, let it rest in the refrigerator, then roll it out and cut it with a Kitchen Aid attachment.

I really like my Kitchen Aid pasta attachments… I spent a little more money for the genuine “Kitchen Aid” attachments, but I do think they are worth it.

I’ve seen the “crank” style pasta makers, but have never tried them.

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Chitarra is a thicker (2-3mm), almost square cross-section noodle shape. Unfortunately just about every chitarra I see online is junk made from cheap wood. I had a Eppicotispai branded one that certainly was.

I have seen metal ones in the past, but this is the closest thing I have seen lately.

If your friend uses a Marcato machine to roll out their pasta, they make a Chitarra cutter attachment that might be worth a look.

But honestly… I don’t get the shape. I prefer thinner, wider pastas (linguine, fettuccine, pappardelle) for texture and sauce retention which I can easily hand cut.

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I don’t either. I think it has to do with being entertained in Italy by a host who used one.

What makes more sense to me are the “rolling pin” versions with evenly-spaced steel cutting discs.

I use one of those for my linguine… but I have yet to see one that goes as narrow as required for a chitarra.

I was referring to the tool, not the traditional dish. I would think that different guitars would have different spacing, yes?

I didn’t think so.

You can’t possibly know any less about this than I do, so I’m going to go with whatever you say!

Here’s an interesting question, though. People claim that pasta extruded through bronze dies absorb and hold sauce better because of the rough(er) texture the bronze dies supposedly impart. Do you think pasta cut by the chitarra wires would be less/same/more rough and therefore different?

I have had an extruder for many years… albeit it with nylon dies. I think much more than the die material is the drier, more semolina-ish dough the extruder requires. The dough I roll out by hand simply will not make its way through the extruder.

The only stuff I use it for is spaghetti/angel hair, gnocchi U’s, and tubular shapes… and that can be counted on one hand over the last year or two as I so much prefer the texture/taste of the handmade stuff (which is only about 33% semolina).

When I had my chitarra, the dough I made was about in the middle between the hand made and the extruder dough (probably 2/3 semolina and no oil). The dryer texture resulted in less deformation when being pushed through the wires.

Your friend may be better served by a soba knife. Though I have many pasta making tools, I never bought a chitarra because the ones I looked at were all so flimsy. The soba knife gives you the option of cutting your noodles to whatever width you feel like. It works much better than a regular knife or cleaver because it doesn’t pull or distort the pasta’s shape, as the handle over the blade allows you to cut straight down. You get used to it very quickly.

If he’s really enjoying making pasta, this is a fun site:

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Thanks, I’ll pass that along!