These are the last steps of a pasta recipe I am publishing this week, in honor of National Pasta Day. (Please see Step 1 and Step 2 to get the entire recipe, or you may want to view it in my book, On the Noodle Road.) This is my favorite part of the process — it feels like magic, as you slice the dough into strands and unfurl them like streamers. The width of the pieces isn’t so important, but just make sure they are uniform.
Step 3: Cutting the Dough
Fold the dough over itself into S-shaped layers (see above) about 4-5 inches wide. With a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise. Feel free to cut it to whatever width you prefer. Taglioni is cut into 1/8” inch strands; fettuccine is wider at ½” per strand.
Dust another large surface (either another cutting board or a plate) with flour. Using one hand, pick up each strand of dough, one by one, and hang them on your other hand.
Once you've collected about half the strands, dredge them together through the flour and curl into a nest, then repeat with the rest of the strands. Sprinkle the strands with a bit of flour.
Roll out and cut the rest of the dough, a quarter at a time. You may refrigerate the pasta overnight or boil it immediately. (If refrigerating, keep it in an airtight container, but do not compress it and make sure you have sprinkled it liberally with flour.)
Step 4: Boiling the Pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt and stir. Drop in the pasta (carefully, to avoid splashing) and stir again, making sure that the strands don't stick together. If you've cut the pasta thinner, boil it for 2-3 minutes; if you've cut it wider, boil it for 3-4 minutes. Strain it through a colander, and serve the pasta immediately with a sauce.