Pros: Useful for sausage stuffing, can make lots of shapes.
Cons: Takes as much time as it does for handmade pasta. Pain to clean dies.
I got the Ronco Pasta maker because I thought it would be cool to make fresh pasta without any of the work. The set it and forget it mentality. I though it was a good idea at the time.
What is the Ronco Pasta maker?
The Ronco Pasta maker is a pasta maker that makes pasta by extrusion. The Ronco Pasta maker mixes the ingredients for you and pushes the pasta out of dies to form the pasta.
How the Ronco Pasta maker works
The Ronco Pasta maker is similar in design to my meat grinder. You have the motor in back and you attach the mixing unit in the front. There is a box container that all of the ingredients are placed in and they are pushed or pulled by a corkscrew like device. The corkscrew first mixes the dough by pulling it towards the back of the machine. After 5 minutes of mixing you switch the machine to extrude and it pushes the dough out of the machine through the dies. You cut the extruded pasta with your knife. You can either lay out the pasta to dry or you can cook it immediately.
How to clean
The Ronco Pasta maker is a bit of a pain to clean. I normally take the whole thing apart and put it in the dishwasher and that does a good job with most of it. Occasionally I will need to run it in the dishwasher twice. The middle piece has to be cleaned by hand. You can finish it off in the dishwasher after you clean out the gunk in the middle part.
The dies are the real problem when it comes to cleaning this unit. You need to get a small wire to flush out the holes otherwise the dough dries inside the dies and they are very difficult to clean out. Just running it through the dishwasher will not work. I either use the wire or I boil the die for 20-30 minutes then put it in the dishwasher.
I have had mixed results with the Ronco Pasta maker. My first few attempts had too much flour in the dough. This imparted a bad taste but the consistency was there. I then made a batch with spinach, about half a can. The spinach made a big difference in the taste. It seemed to mask the flour taste and was pretty good. But I still did not think it was as good as the high quality store bought pasta I had been getting.
I than started to mess with the recipe to see if I could tweak it to taste better. I first used a little more liquid than recommended. This actually produced better tasting pasta. The problem was the pasta would stick together too much. So much of the cooked pasta was clumped together.
My last few attempts I used a mixture of cake flour and AP flour, similar to what Mario recommended in his book. This also did not turn out well and I have not used the machine since.
My wife's first attempt with the Ronco Pasta maker
My wife is currently learning how to cook and thought that learning how to use this machine would make her life as a homemaker easier. My wife tried the machine and followed the directions to the letter. Her first attempt ended up having very hard pasta that would not extrude well. It tasted horrible. After we cleaned out the machine I recommended adding a little more liquid. It once again tasted horrible and did not extrude easily. I cleaned out the corkscrew and put the rest in the dishwasher. I then put some dried pasta in a pot of boiling water and had a nice meal together.
Summary of the taste of the pasta from the Ronco Pasta maker
The taste was not good for three major reasons. The first is the extruder is not powerful. It also does not mix it up properly for my tastes. The second is the dough needs time to rest under a damp cloth, this machine does not protect the dough from the air so resting is not a good idea.
The third problem is more important. The pasta is not folded properly. What a Villaware machine does is presses the dough in such a way that it forms layers. This adds much needed texture to the pasta. The machine just pushes out the pasta so it does not have the strength or texture of typical pasta.
About stuffing sausage
I have not stuffed sausage with this because I use my meat grinder for that. But if you do stuff sausage then be ready to spend a long time doing it because the extruder is very slow. The only really application I can see in using the sausage stuffer is with kids. Because it is slow and the sausage is self-contained I can see young cooks having an easier time with this unit. And it is key to let your children feel success if you want them to get involved in bigger and better things.
My impressions on the motor.
I have only used the Ronco Pasta maker device 12 times so the motor has not had a chance to give out on me yet. But I am not very confident in its longevity. When the motor is really working you get the electric motor smell that always concerns me. Also, the motor is also a bit loud, Loud enough to annoy my wife in the other room if she is watching T.V.
The alternative to the Ronco Pasta maker
Doing the well method I think is easier than this machine, if you have the forearms for it. If you do not then just use a food processor. Just dump the ingredients in, turn on the food processor, and add the olive oil. After that you have to mold it by hand or use a pasta machine like the Villaware model. You will come up with pasta that is better tasting and has better texture. You will also spend the same amount of time making it.
What does it come with
12 extrusion dies.
A measuring cup with markings for the oil, egg, and liquid.
The motor unit.
The mixing and containment unit.
A sausage stuffing attachment.
Synthetic sausage casing
Sausage spice mix
(note: Newer units come with an automatic dryer and a pasta cutter.)
About the dies
You have all the dies any average cook would need.
-Tagliatelle (large fettuccini)
-Rigatoni (large macaroni)
-Paparadelle (smaller manicotti)
-Basic dough extruder.
-There are at least 23 dies you can buy now. (ex. Cookie, bagle, bread stick, other pasta shapes.)
-Deluxe sausage maker kit
Height: 11.25 inches
Length: 11 inches
Width: 7 inches
Summary of the Problems of the Ronco Pasta maker
-Directions must be followed to the letter.
-A dishwasher is a must.
The Ronco Pasta maker is a good idea that just does not work out in the end. The Ronco Pasta maker is hard to clean, does not make good pasta, and it takes a while to make the pasta. It is just as easy to make the pasta by hand or use other appliances to aid you in your pasta creation. I certainly will think twice before buying another one of his products again. I recommend that you avoid the Ronco Pasta maker.
Other pasta making tools.
10 square ravioli maker
Villaware pasta machine
Imperia pasta machine motor.
Xango, Mangosteen fruit juice.