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Old 10-26-2007, 03:00 PM   #21
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DOH!!!
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Old 10-26-2007, 03:30 PM   #22
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Well, guys, adding pasta water to the sauce helps thicken up the sauce, a lot!! Ask anyone :-)
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Old 10-26-2007, 03:41 PM   #23
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Well, guys, adding pasta water to the sauce helps thicken up the sauce, a lot!! Ask anyone :-)
Is that the only liquid you're adding to the sauce ingredients? The OP was using wine and possibly the liquid from the tomoates, so adding pasta water too would be way too much liquid in that case. What do you use?
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Old 10-26-2007, 03:57 PM   #24
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Well, guys, adding pasta water to the sauce helps thicken up the sauce, a lot!! Ask anyone :-)

Adding cooking water does not help thicken the sauce -- in fact it's often used to loosen sauces. It is sometimes used if cheese is involved in order to melt the cheese. If you add pasta water to the sauce you will need to cook it down and it's the cooking (ie, evaporation) that thickens the sauce.

America's foremost food scientist Robert Wolke was asked about this and this is what he said:

"(B)elieve it or not, some people claim that you can use a bit of the pasta water to thicken a sauce by adding the water and then simmering the sauce down. After all, the theory goes, the water contains starch dissolved out of the pasta, and starch will thicken a sauce.

"Huh?" I asked myself. "Can there be enough starch in the water to do any significant amount of thickening?" I decided to find out.

I cooked eight ounces of spaghetti in three quarts of water for the six minutes recommended on the package, fished out the spaghetti and boiled the cooking water down all the way to dryness to see how much starch was left. (The final stages of evaporation were done in a dish in a 220-degree oven.) Then I weighed the dried starch.

I found nine grams of starch in the entire three quarts of cooking water. A little calculation showed that, if you were to add a quarter-cup of this water to a pint of sauce in an attempt to thicken it, you would be adding about one-fifteenth of a teaspoon of starch.

That's supposed to thicken it? No way!"

Read more from Wolke
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Old 10-26-2007, 04:13 PM   #25
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Woulda been 2/15ths starch if 16 oz of spagett were used instead of 8??
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Old 10-26-2007, 05:26 PM   #26
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If I start with fresh tomatoes, I add very little water. I let the tomatoes break down and steam until they achive the thickness I desire. Then, I add the garlic, onions, herbs, and spices as adding them too soon will cause much of the flavor to evaporate. Before adding things like mushrooms, saute' them first, with just a bit of salt, to develop their flavor and evaporate much of the liquid. If adding ground beef, brown it with the lid on the pan, drain the juices into a bowl after it's cooked (place the bowl into the fridge for a wonderfully flavored beef broth, the fat rises to the top and hardens, sealing the broth in the bowl, and making it easy to remove the fat when you want to use it.), and then rinse the meat. Then add it to the sauce.

Tomato paste is a wonderful thickener, and should be added only if your sauce is too runny. Then, for 16 oz. of sauce (2 cups), add a six-oz. can of paste. you will have to correct the seasoning as the tomato flavor will overpower the herbs, spices, and veggie flavoings.

I find that if I use 1 twelve oz. cans of diced tomato, 1 twelve oz. can of either crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce, along with 1 six oz. can of tomato paste, my sauce is much easier to build, and is as good as any "from scratch" sauce I've made. Plus, in my neck of the woods, it is hard to get vine-ripened tomatoes, picked at the peak of flavor. Canned tomato products actually give me better, and more consistant results.

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Old 10-26-2007, 06:07 PM   #27
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Additional simmering to reduce the water content of the sauce is the best. In a pinch I've added a tablespoon or two of polenta to stiffen the sauce. This will absorb the water and does not really change the flavor of the sauce.
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Old 10-26-2007, 06:25 PM   #28
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I agree with the others who say cook it longer. They key to this though is make sure you cook it uncovered. The goal is to evaporate some of the liquid. If you leave the lid on then that will not happen.
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Old 10-26-2007, 07:55 PM   #29
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I agree with the others who say cook it longer. They key to this though is make sure you cook it uncovered. The goal is to evaporate some of the liquid. If you leave the lid on then that will not happen.
You know, it’s a good thing you pointed that out. Some techniques we take for granted, but I’ve actually had a friend that was trying to thicken a stew and reduce it, but she left the lid on the pot! Once I told her to take the lid off, she had the stew to the right point within 30 minutes or so and was very pleased.
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Old 10-27-2007, 01:56 AM   #30
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adding pasta water to sauce helps to thin the sauce, in my book. it is used to help make a sauce the right thickness for the pasta or dish being served. sort of a fine tuning.

somewhere along the line, the starch from the pasta as a thickening agent idea got going.

as mentioned, adding oil to pasta water is a bad idea, unless you want really plain pasta. most of the oil is wasted, really.

if you cook sauce for a long time, you'll end up with a thicker, deeply flavored sauce. if the dish requires a more fresh tomato flavor, you can add some tomato paste (which also changes the flavor profile), or even a pinch of cornstarch or flour to help absorb the extra water.

htha? (hth, eh? )
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