Maddy Douglass

Knitter, lawyer, and safer beauty advocate in San Francisco. 

Loves coffee, crafting, and cheese plates.  


Homemade pasta & Braised Onion Sauce

Who wants to get their cook on with me today? If you follow me through this incredibly winding and wandering thought stream, I promise the end result will be akin to a food-based Oprah episode. You get a pasta! And you get a pasta! And you all get pastasssss! Or, something like that.

UntitledNeither half of this tutorial is particularly difficult, they're both just time consuming and patience-requiring. But I swear to you, this was one of the most satisfying meals I've ever made, simply because I created all of it out of a few basic ingredients and a lot of time to spare.

For the pasta:

- four eggs - 3.5 cups all purpose, unbleached flour - either a pasta making machine, or a tagliatelle roller like I have, or a ruler and a knife

For the sauce:

- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter - 1.5 pounds white onions, halved and sliced 1/4" thick - 1 tablespoon sugar - salt - 1/4 cup Madeira (found at Whole Foods though I'm sure any grocery store will have some) - 3/4 lb hot, cooked pasta (the original recipe uses papardelle, but I don't have a papardelle roller.)

When Debbie wanted to come over and help me cook this, I said YES PLEASE! But first, we started with wine and cheese. Because who doesn't love wine and cheese? And, also, rhyming...

We may have slightly lost our minds at Whole Foods that particular evening. Please use your judgment sparingly here - there will be many more ridiculous photos to come.


We decided to make the pasta first because it has to sit before you can roll it out. Did I mention this recipe takes approximately five hours? We didn't eat until almost 10pm. But it was worth it.

Pour your flour out on a large flat surface or, if you're lazy like me, a baking sheet. This surface is going to get messy.


Crack your four eggs into a bowl ahead of time to make sure there aren't any shells.


Have another bite of cheese for energy...


Then, try (scoff) to form a little volcano hole in the middle of your flour. Pour your eggs in slowly, keeping them all in the volcano.


So close...


...And no cigar. Total failure. That's fine! You're just going to mush it all up anyway.


After a while, the fork will be useless, so just get to mushin with your (clean) hands.

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Eventually when all of the flour is incorporated (you can even add a bit more here and there if you think it's too sticky) you should keep kneading it for 3 or so minutes (flouring the surface if needed), and then knead it for another 3 minutes. Hey, I don't make the rules!

Once the dough has been properly massaged, roll it into a nice sized ball, and wrap it in saran wrap. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.


In the meantime, get started on your sauce (or if you're smart, let your friend help with the sauce while you're pasta-ing. I was too proud for that part!) by chopping your onions. This is going to be a LOT of onions, but I swear, they all cook down. You'll see the proof in our pictures.


When all of your onions have been chopped, melt your butter in a large skillet. This pan should have high sides so you can fit everything in and turn it over a bit and still have room.


When the butter is melted, add your onions. All of them! Pour those puppies in. They'll be ok, even if the top ones aren't touching a lick of buttah.


Say hi to Debbie!


While you're waiting for this party to get started, have more cheese.


See? Told you they'd start cooking down! This whole process now is just about stirring, and watching. And eating cheese. And stirring some more! And getting Debbie to take pictures of you.


While your onions are cooking down, after twenty minutes (and not a second less!) have passed, flour your surface for rolling out your pasta. Or, just use your fancy pasta machine according to instructions (birthday ideas, mom!) Here, I used my tagliatelle roller and a regular rolling pin to flatten it out. We could have made it even MORE flat in smaller batches, but there was a learning curve to this evening. Next time we'll know!


Check on your onions! Yep, they're doing fine. When they get to this soft and translucent stage, turn the heat down a bit and stir in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Keep stirring for, no joke, about another hour. These babies should be sticky and almost jammy when they're done.


Roll out your dough as flat as you can possibly get it. Here, the toaster oven was a bit of a barrier. Remind me to move that puppy next time. Again, learning curve!

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Don't forget to clean up after yourself. What a good roommate I am! (yes yes, shameless plug for me.)


Here's my roller! Thanks D for these priceless shots.


You have to press down really hard with the roller if the dough is too thick, so we had something closer to thick spaghetti than tagliatelle. Oh well!

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Lay the separated pieces on a paper towel to dry and absorb any stickiness - although, we floured our surface well enough that they were pretty dry to begin with.

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So proud of this tangled mess!


Mmmm, the onions are coming along nicely! At this point, they're ready for the finishing touches. Add the Madeira wine and stir for another few minutes or so to get everything incorporated. While that's happening, you can cook your pasta (you should have already been heating up a big pot of water.)


Only leave the pasta in for a few minutes or so - you can taste test a little bit and see how floury it tastes, but fresh pasta doesn't need to be cooked too long. Use your judgment!


The finished sauce should look like this. And this is the point when you bow down to the Oprah of cooking (James Beard? Is that you?) and thank the heavens that this recipe found its way to you on the interwebs.


Mix it all up with your roommate's Chilean salad tongs.

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And serve, gleefully, with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of parmesan.

IMG_2110 IMG_2119 IMG_2121 IMG_2124 IMG_2126Ymmm yummmm ymmm mmmmm

Oh sorry, what's that? You couldn't understand that last bit? I was too busy reveling in the glory of making this dish from scratch.


Speaking of from scratch, what's the proudest you've ever been of something you cooked? 


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