Thursday, January 1, 2009

How to Make Perfect Pasta

Does your pasta often come out tasteless and bland? Is your pasta often gummy and sticky? Well, here are my best tips for perfect pasta.

  • You need to use a large pot and a lot of water - at least 6 quarts of water for a full pound of pasta! Many people use saucepans or pots that are too small for the pasta that they are making and not nearly enough water. Big mistake. The pasta really needs a lot of room to move around or you end up with sticky, gummy pasta, so use a very large stockpot or pasta pot. For a one pound package of pasta, you really need at least 6 quarts of water. Do that and you will not have to rinse the starch off of your pasta and it will hold onto the sauce much better.

  • Season the pot with a very generous amount of salt!  Many people use very little salt, or none at all. Really, this is the only time you'll be able to put any seasoning into the pasta.  I use kosher salt in my kitchen - the "pinching" salt - so I grab two very large and generous pinches - maybe even three for a big pot.  You need a lot of salt.

  • Bring the unseasoned pot of water up to a boil first, then add the salt. If you add salt to a cool pot of water, it will delay the water reaching the boiling point. 

  • Cover the pot while you bring it up to a boil. It will come to a boil much faster. Once you add the pasta, do not re-cover the pot.

Perfect pasta!

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  1. Another thing I've recently been doing is going 1-3 minutes BELOW the suggested numbers on pasta directions. So, if bucatini takes 7-8 minutes, I'll start tasting the pasta at 5 minutes. Reason is I think it's very easy to overcook pasta (especially when later adding it to sauce0.

    And then, what I do is add it to the pasta sauce in a warm pan and continue to cook it. With my tomato basil recipe, I actually intentionally continue to cook it for a few minutes, so I pull it at least 1 or 2 minutes before al dente. This allows me to control how it cooks in the sauce and, with the tomato basil, the pasta lends a creaminess to the sauce.


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