Macaroni is a product of wheat prepared from a hard, clean, glutenous grain. The grain is ground into a meal called semolina, from which the bran is excluded. This is made into a tasty dough by mixing with hot water in the proportion of two thirds semolina to one third water. The dough after being thoroughly mixed is put into a shallow vat and kneaded and rolled by machinery. When well rolled, it is made to assume varying shapes by being forced by a powerful plunger through the perforated head of strong steel or iron cylinders arranged above a fire, so that the dough is partially baked as it issues from the holes. It is afterwards hung over rods or laid upon frames covered with cloth, and dried. It is called by different names according to its shape. If in the shape of large, hollow cylinders, it is macaroni; if smaller in diameter, it is spaghetti; if fine, vermicelli; if the paste is cut into fancy patterns, it is termed pasta d'Italia. Macaroni was formerly made only in Italy, but at present is manufactured to a considerable extent in the United States.
Good macaroni will keep in good condition for a long time. It is rough, elastic, and hard; while the inferior article is smooth, soft, breaks easily, becomes moldy with keeping. Inferior macaroni contains a large percentage of starch, and but a small amount of gluten. When put into hot water, it assumes a white, pasty appearance, and splits in cooking. Good macaroni when put into hot water absorbs a portion of the water, swells to nearly double its size, but perfectly retains its shape. It contains a much smaller amount of gluten.
Do not wash macaroni. Break into pieces of convenient size if it is long. Always put to cook in boiling liquid, taking care to have plenty of water in the saucepan (as it absorbs a large quantity), and cook until tender. The length of time required may vary from twenty minutes, if fresh, to one hour if stale. When tender, turn into a colander and drain, and pour cold water through it to prevent the tubes from sticking together. The fluid used for cooking may be water, milk, or a mixture of both; also soup stock, tomato juice, or any preferred liquid.
Macaroni serves as an important adjunct to the making of various soups, and also forms the basis of other palatable dishes.
To four cupfuls of flour, add one egg well beaten, and enough water to make a dough that can be rolled. Roll thin on a breadboard and cut into strips. Dry in the sun. The best arrangement for this purpose is a wooden frame to which a square of cheese-cloth has been tightly tacked, upon which the macaroni may be laid in such a way as not to touch, and afterwards covered with a cheese-cloth to keep off the dust during the drying.
Put a larg cup of macaroni into boiling water and cook until tender. When done, drained thoroughly, then add a pint of milk, part cream if it can be afforded, a little salt and one well-beaten egg; stir over the fire until it thickens, and serve hot.
Macaroni with cream sauce.
Cook the macaroni as directed in the proceeding, and serve with a cream sauce prepared by heating a scant pint of rich milk to boiling, in a double boiler. When boiling, add a heaping tablespoonful of flour, rubbed smoothed in a little milk and one fourth teaspoonful of salt. If desired, the sauce may be flavored by steeping in the milk before thickening for ten or fifteen minutes, a slice of onion or a few bits of celery, and then removing with a fork.
Macaroni with tomato sauce.
Drop a cup of macaroni into boiling milk and water, equal parts. Let it boil for an hour, or until perfectly tender. In the meantime prepare the sauce by rubbing a pint of stewed or canned tomatoes through a colander to remove all seeds and fragments. Heat to boiling, thicken with a little flour; a tablespoonful to the pint will be about the requisite proportion. Add salt and if desired, a half cup of very thin sweet cream. Dish the macaroni into individual dishes, and serve with a small quantity of the sauce poured over each dish.
Macaroni baked with granola.
Cook a large cup of macaroni until tender in boiling milk and water. When done, drain and put a layer of the macaroni in the bottom of a pudding dish, and sprinkle over it a scant teaspoonful of granola. Add a second and third layer and sprinkle each with granola; then turn over the whole a custard sauce prepared by mixing together a pint of milk, the well beaten yolks of two eggs or one whole egg, and one-fourth of a teaspoonful of salt. Care should be taken to arrange the macaroni in layers loosely, so that the sauce will readily permeate the whole. Bake for a few minutes only, until the custard has well set, and serve.
Eggs and macaroni.
Cook a cup of macaroni in boiling water. While the macaroni is cooking, boil the yolks of four eggs until mealy. The whole egg may be used if caught so the yolks are mealy in the whites simply jellied, not hardened. When the macaroni is done, drain and put a layer of it arranged loosely in the bottom of a pudding dish. Slice the cooked egg yolks and spread a layer of them over the macaroni. Fill the dish with alternate layers of macaroni and egg, taking care to have the top layer of macaroni. Pour over the whole a cream sauce prepared as follows: Heat one and three fourths cup of rich milk to boiling, add one fourth teaspoonful of salt and one heaping spoonful of flour rubbed smooth in a little cold milk. Cook until thickened, then turn over the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with grated bread crumbs, and brown in a hot oven for eight or ten minutes. Serve hot.