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HOW TO COOK NOODLES
A lot of people have problems with cooking pasta, apparently.
Here are some tips:
To cook pasta properly, pasta needs a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.
For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.
Crud in your water will mean crud in your pasta. Old water that’s been sitting in the pipes will have weird flavors sometimes. let your water run for a minute before putting any into your pot.
Put COLD water in the pot.
Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.
Don’t put salt or pasta into the water until AFTER it starts boiling.
Salt in the water has to do with flavors - Yes, salted water boils faster, but only by a few seconds, and adding salt to cool water will actually damage the pot.
Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta so the sauce will not stick to noodles. (Angel Hair pasta is the only type I relent on, with this rule.)
Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible.
(Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That’s why the fast boil is so import)
Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil
Once you have added your pasta, DO NOT COVER THE POT WITH A LID
Stir at the beginning, but allow the pasta to sit for a minute or two between stirring after that.
Don’t rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time
Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly.
Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth).
Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat.
Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.
REMEMBER - Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water, and will cook a bit from the heat and moisture of the sauce.
There should NEVER be a crunch inside your noodle - that means it’s undercooked.
Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.
DO NOT RINSE unless the recipe says to do so. the starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you’re going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking shouldn’t be a problem.
EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.
Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold
Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.
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