The art of pasta at Veritas Tavern
Pasta is an exact science at Veritas Tavern. Chef and owner Josh Dalton has one recipe committed to memory-inspired by that of chef Thomas Keller-which he and his kitchen team employ daily to craft every piece of fettuccine, gnocchi and ravioli served at Veritas and sister restaurant 1808 American Bistro, both in Delaware. Here's how they do it. veritastavern.com
1. Milling around
Chefs mill organic heirloom grains from Anson Mills to produce flour unique to the restaurant. Each pasta batch begins with 900 grams (roughly 12 to 20 servings) of this flour. If Dalton is making specialty pasta, such as dark chocolate ravioli or pea fettuccini, he replaces 100 grams of flour with an equal amount of cacao powder or powdered freeze-dried veggies, respectively. "Flour is a vessel to carry the flavors," Dalton says. "Or, theoretically, it's a really subtle way to mute some flavors. It's all about adjusting your sauce or other ingredients to achieve that desired balance."
2. Can't make pasta without cracking a few…
Crack a standard supermarket egg, and you'll likely find a pale, runny yolk. For his pastas, Dalton uses organic eggs laid by free-range chickens for their richer, brighter yolks. "Our pasta comes out a crazy, intense yellow," he says. "You can just tell it has a different flavor and texture." He occasionally uses duck eggs, which contain even fuller yolks. Dalton also adds whole eggs to his mix (a 2:1 yolk-whole egg ratio) to make the dough more adhesive.
3. Tying it all together
You'll find familiar pasta at Veritas year-round, but rarely will it be presented the same way twice. Seasonal veggies aren't only added onto the plate but into the pasta as well. Come spring, expect pea fettuccine with ramps and morels. In summer, tomato fettuccine and bright, citrus-spiked pasta salad served cold. Dalton also makes chocolate ravioli (made slightly bitter, not overly sweet, with cacao powder) with mascarpone filling for dessert. It's not always about what can be added to the pasta dishes, he says, but rather what can be taken away. "There's no sugar in our pasta," he says. "It's easy to add butter, cream and fat into a dish and make it tasty. We're always looking for ways to achieve those bright, super-clean flavors."
Pasta fun facts from Veritas Tavern
- If you're served a plate of gray pasta, don't fret. Dalton sometimes supplements his pasta flour with edible dirt or ash from charred vegetables. "Ash is a lot of fun to work with and adds a really nice, earthy flavor," he says.
- Every ingredient at Veritas is measured using the metric system. "I think it's the most important thing we do in the kitchen," he says. "Cooking by weight is how you get the most consistent product. One thing all people should have at their house is a scale that does grams."
- The secret to Veritas' delicate gnocchi ? Cake flour. "It produces a lighter note and almost actually tastes cake-like," Dalton says.
- Dalton's standard pasta recipe is finished with 16 grams of olive oil and 48 grams of milk, both for added richness and texture.