There is nothing like a plate of fresh pasta, adorned with just the right amount of sauce. Chef Chris Becker knows all about making great pasta. In March 2011, he started Della Terra Pasta Company based in Oklahoma City after working with some of the biggest names in the culinary scene who helped mold him into the chef he is today.
Becker, a New England native, spent 10 years working in New York City under some of the country’s finest Italian chefs, including Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich, with French influence from chefs Eric Ripert and Gabriel Kreuther. Restaurants such as Lupa, Del Posto, Le Bernardin and The Modern became his training ground.
His company’s philosophy is simple and the name of the company encompasses that philosophy. Della Terra, which translates from Italian to “of the earth,” is the essence of the company. The organic pasta contains no preservatives or additives. Whole grain durum wheat flour is ground especially for Della Terra in Montana. This special flour and water are the only ingredients in this artisanal pasta.
Currently, Becker makes three kinds of fresh pasta: spaghetti, rigatoni and pappardelle. All three varieties are available in traditional and whole grain durum wheat semolina. Fresh lasagna sheets are in the works as well as a line of dried pasta.
Becker takes a minimalist approach to his cooking.
“If there are 20 ingredients on a plate, they don’t all have to be perfect because one ingredient can cover another. However, if there are only a few ingredients, they all must be executed perfectly,” he says.
When making a pasta dish, the pasta is the star. If it is not cooked correctly, the finished product will be affected. Cooking pasta certainly is not rocket science, but Becker offers a few suggestions for making perfect pasta every time.
Use a stainless steel pot. One gallon of water is sufficient for a 10-ounce package of fresh pasta.
Bring the water to a boil and add three to four tablespoons of kosher salt. Once the water returns to a boil, add the fresh pasta and stir after 30 seconds.
While the pasta is cooking, stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Since cooking time varies on different varieties of fresh pasta, check for doneness frequently.
“The pasta should have a pleasant, toothsome bite,” says Becker.
Let it simmer a little longer if not quite ready. Drain the pasta, then toss in a pan with pasta sauce.
Della Terra fresh pasta is available at farmers’ markets and some retail locations in and around the Oklahoma City area. In Tulsa, the pasta is currently available at Lambrusco’z.