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Old 01-24-2020, 08:58 AM   #1
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Favorite Pasta Cooking Method

I have been making my pasta the way I was taught for 40-some years, i.e. boil in salted water to al dente. It has worked well. But the past few times, I changed my method, incorporating tips from D.C. and the no-boil lasagna idea.

From DC, I learned that adding a bit of the pasta water to the sauce helps the sauce adhere to the pasta better. I also know that Italian pasta is more about tha pasta, with the sauce used to enhance the noodles, and is often baked. So I tried to combine this knowledge to make the perfect pasta.

I love a gret ragu,, or bolognese. If my kidneys allowed it, I could eat the sauce all by itself, like a soup. The pasta noodle adds texture and flavor though, and I love that as well. With my love of sauce, I want it rich with herbs andd all the flavrs that a great sauce must have. I want it thick and not watery. Lastly, I want it to adhere strongly to whatever pasta type I'm using. I now have changed my tecnique to achive my perfect pasta.

First, I prefer a hearty pasta, suck as linguini, penne, rotiny, or cabatapi, with the last being my favorite. In reality, this technique can be used with any wheat-flor based pasta shape.

Now for the sauce; I make a thick ragu with browned ground beef, rustic chopprd onion , sweet fully ripe bell peppers, all seasone with basil, oregano, rosemary, thime, and fresh garlic. I use tomato puree as the tomato base, no sugar, no tomato paste is required. The acidity of the puree is ballaned by the whole onion's sweetness.

When the sauce is just right, I add 2 cups of water and stir it. I then add 1 cup of dried pasta of choice. I bring it to a gentle boil, cover the pot, and let all cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so
The noodle release starch into the watery sauce helping both to thicken the sauce, and make it adhere to the noodle. The noodle absorbs flavor from the sauce, as well as soaking up just the right amount of water.

When the noodles are perfectly al denty, the sauce has again thickend, and adheres perfectly to the pasta. With hollow nootles such as cavatapi, macoroni, rigatoni, etc. the sause coats the noodle inside and out.

If you love a great sauce, and want it to really be a major player in your pasta dish, give this method a try.

One more tip, when using a thick noodle with this technique, over-season a bit so that the noodle flavor ballances properly with the sauce flavor.

I have used this technique on th stovetop with no oven reqired, several times now. For me, it has made superior pasta compared to any other metod. Bes of all, it has been no fail. I don' get watery sauce, where the water seperates from the tomato meat.

I hope this has been clear and informative.

Seeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 01-24-2020, 11:07 AM   #2
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What really elevates a pasta dish for me is fresh pasta. I use semolina, eggs, water, olive oil and salt. Sometimes I will add flavor via a puree of spinach/basil, sun dried tomatoes, or roasted garlic.

I often don't mix the pasta with the sauce (especially with heartier sauces). I fetch the pasta out of the water with a pasta spoon or spyder, and transfer it to a hot, paper towel line plate. Once the paper towel absorbs the moisture I flip it over to spread the pasta on the plate, dust with grated parm, and add a ladle of sauce in the center.

I quite like being able to vary the sauce/pasta ratio, and it is purposely different from bite to bite. The more porous/delicate texture of semolina pasta and the grated cheese makes sauce adhere very well.

So that's my favorite plate of pasta.
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:16 AM   #3
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That souds great. I too enjoy fresh pasta. Your method sounfs great.

Seeeeya; Chif Longwind of the North
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Old 01-24-2020, 11:17 AM   #4
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Salted, boiling water whether fresh or dried.
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Old 01-24-2020, 03:31 PM   #5
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Salted, boiling water whether fresh or dried.
+1 I agree
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Old 01-24-2020, 04:53 PM   #6
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A couple years ago I learned you don't need a big pot of boiling salted water to cook dried pasta to perfection. Actually, I use a 3 qt. pot of salted water to cook 8oz. of dried pasta. The water must cover all of the pasta, so short pasta works best. The bonus is you end up with very concentrated starchy pasta water to finish your sauce.

If you don't believe me, you can sure believe Kenji.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/05/...-food-lab.html
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Old 01-24-2020, 04:55 PM   #7
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A couple years ago I learned you don't need a big pot of boiling salted water to cook dried pasta to perfection. Actually, I use a 3 qt. pot of salted water to cook 8oz. of dried pasta. The water must cover all of the pasta, so short pasta works best. The bonus is you end up with very concentrated starchy pasta water to finish your sauce.

If you don't believe me, you can sure believe Kenji.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/05/...-food-lab.html
I've been doing this, too. It saves a lot of unnecessary water use, and extra time waiting for a large quantity to come to a boil.
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Old 01-24-2020, 05:17 PM   #8
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I've been doing this, too. It saves a lot of unnecessary water use, and extra time waiting for a large quantity to come to a boil.
...+2
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Old 01-24-2020, 07:57 PM   #9
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+3 The only catch is that you have to be sure to stir it the first couple of minutes. Otherwise you end up with clumps of stuck together pasta.
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Old 01-24-2020, 09:56 PM   #10
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Chief, tonight I made my version of American Goulash/Chop Suey and it certainly proves your point about cooking pasta with the sauce in some applications as long as you have enough liquid.

I didn't have the usual elbow macaroni, but it worked out well in one large skillet as it always does. Delish...
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Old 01-24-2020, 10:48 PM   #11
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Chief, tonight I made my version of American Goulash/Chop Suey and it certainly proves your point about cooking pasta with the sauce in some applications as long as you have enough liquid.

I didn't have the usual elbow macaroni but it worked out well in one large skillet as it always does. Delish...
That looks yummy, Kayelle. I agreee that my new favorite technique isn' suitable for al pasta rcipes. But where you want a richk and thick sauce that sticks well to pasta, this works. The American Glulash that my Dad used to make is what inspired me to try this, though he cooked the rotini seperately frothe sauce. But then he'd blend work it all together and let it simmer for a while. I just added my own tweeks from what I know about making no-boil lasagna, and what I've learned about the starhes in noodle water. My way just uses that starh directly in the sauce to both thicken, and make the sauce adhere to the noodle.

Thanks for sharing your results, Kayelle. I'm glad it worked for you
too.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 01-25-2020, 04:44 AM   #12
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+3 The only catch is that you have to be sure to stir it the first couple of minutes. Otherwise you end up with clumps of stuck together pasta.
Plus 4? I've always used just enough water and just enough pan to cook my pasta. I've never given it any thought. With long pastas, like spaghetti, I either need a bigger pot, or I break the spaghetti in half. If I am just cooking for me, I'll break the spaghetti in half. It tastes exactly the same. Presentation and eating technique is different.

I boil my pasta to al dente, and finish cooking in my sauce. I don't like to eat pasta al dente. I put my al dente pasta into my sauce, with some pasta water, and let it cook until nice and tender.

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Old 01-25-2020, 11:43 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
A couple years ago I learned you don't need a big pot of boiling salted water to cook dried pasta to perfection. Actually, I use a 3 qt. pot of salted water to cook 8oz. of dried pasta. The water must cover all of the pasta, so short pasta works best. The bonus is you end up with very concentrated starchy pasta water to finish your sauce.

If you don't believe me, you can sure believe Kenji.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/05/...-food-lab.html
+ ummm 5? I also use a 3 quart to cook 1/2 lb. (4 servings) pasta.
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Old 01-25-2020, 01:34 PM   #14
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I have an 8cup SS pot that I use to make small batch pasta, etc..

Just made mac salad.. 6 cups water, 1 1/4 cup ditalini pasta.. Works great for me..

Ross
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Old 01-25-2020, 04:58 PM   #15
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The simple pasta to cook is the under appreciated Couscous.
- Boil 1 1/4 cup of water and a bit of oil with it
- Once boiling, add 1 cup of Couscous
- mix and let rest covered for 5minute
And "voila", it is ready, hot or cold, and like all other pasta, you can add

anything you want in it.
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Old 01-27-2020, 08:20 AM   #16
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For long pasta I use a straight-sided frying pan. Uses less water, water boils a lot faster.
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:39 PM   #17
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I do it the same way my Sicilian grandmother, my mother, and all her sisters did it. Put the maccheroni is a pot of boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand and shape (I use Barilla. You can cook that stuff for 2 hours and it would still be al dente!), drain, put it back in the pot you cooked it in, and add just enough sauce to enhance the flavour. DO NOT DROWN THE MACCHERONI!
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Old 01-28-2020, 02:45 PM   #18
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The other night we had elbow macaroni with browned ground pork and Classico tomato sauce. I started cooking it, but conked out part way through and DH took over. As planned, he cooked the macaroni in the sauce with a bit of added water. It worked great. I had never done this before, but DH used to do that before we got together. Thanks for this new-to-me pasta cooking method Chief.
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Old 01-28-2020, 02:50 PM   #19
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I do it the same way my Sicilian grandmother, my mother, and all her sisters did it. Put the maccheroni is a pot of boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand and shape (I use Barilla. You can cook that stuff for 2 hours and it would still be al dente!), drain, put it back in the pot you cooked it in, and add just enough sauce to enhance the flavour. DO NOT DROWN THE MACCHERONI!
But I love the sauce. I agree though that sometimes, it's about the pasta not the ssuce. It just depends on what I'm in the mood for. Sometimes,, I even enjoy spaghtti that has been cooked, with just enough sauce to coat the noodles, and yhen bake in a caserole pam intil crisp edges are formed.

Seeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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