Ten Steps to Perfect Pasta
It amazes me how many times I receive emails from an angry servant complaining that a pasta dish has once again turned into a culinary disaster. I hear stories of overcooked, undercooked, and tasteless noodles that are sticky or inedible. I recently had the experience that I was shopping with a friend and suggested that she buy some pasta. She replied that it was too unpredictable to cook.
It doesn’t have to be. First of all, 90% of the cooking is done there. That means having the phone connected to voicemail; Perhaps leave guests in the living room while they sip Chardonnay and just focus on the task at hand. And when you’re in the process of caring for your pasta, you can run the only test available to assess the degree of doneness:
These two tips alone will improve your pasta cooking skills, but I offer you ten little steps that together ensure a perfect pasta dish every time. Follow these steps, and you will make a paste that will never fail to impress your family, friends, and your fiercest critic.
- Not all noodles are the same. Choose a brand with a solid reputation in the market. De Cecco and Barilla are two excellent brands that are readily available in supermarkets.
- Use a saucepan large enough to hold the pasta without getting too full. An eight-quart pot is good for a pound of pasta; a 10-quart pot is better. Pasta needs room to move freely while cooking. At the very least, don’t use anything smaller than a six-quart pot.
- Use lots of water. You should use at least six litres of water for one pound of pasta.
- Add salt to the water. About 1 tsp. per gallon. Salt gives the pasta a flavour that will help create a well-seasoned dish. Oftentimes, a perfectly seasoned sauce still tastes like it needs “something” because the pasta is not seasoned.
- Bring the water to a boil before adding the pasta. One of the main causes of pasta sticking is that the water is not fully boiling yet. When you put the pasta in water that has not yet reached the boiling point, natural starches are released, which act like glue. Since the noodles are just sitting in the water at this point, the threads stick together.
- Bring the water to a boil as soon as possible after adding the pasta. For pasta strands, like spaghetti or linguine, stir the pasta until it collapses and soaks into the cooking water, then cover the saucepan until the water comes back to a boil. However, when the water boils, uncover the saucepan and stop cooking without the lid.
- Stir the pasta two or three times during the cooking process. The pasta cooks in eight to ten minutes. The little time you spend caring for him away from family or guests will reap great rewards at the dining room table.
- Never add olive oil to the boiling water of the pasta. The olive oil will coat the pasta and keep the sauce from sticking once you’ve assembled the entire dish.
- Cook pasta until “dent”. This can only be judged by testing. Manufacturers’ cook times are just a guide. Start tasting the pasta about two minutes before the manufacturer says it should be done. The cooking time between removing the pasta from the heat, draining it in the sink and combining it with the sauce is also a little longer.
- Never rinse the paste. When you rinse the pasta, it removes most of the starches and nutrients that you originally intended to enjoy.
So be there. Be attentive. Taste and find out when the pasta was cooked to the desired consistency. Take these ten little steps, and you’ll earn a reputation as a pasta miracle worker. And with the countless sauces of Italian and Italian-American cuisine, he has expanded his cooking repertoire far beyond his wildest dreams.