Tip #1 Cooking Pasta

I have decided to include random tips about cooking.  Some, possibly even most may already know these tips but many new chefs are unaware of them and I can't help but remember when I first started cooking.  I called my mom regularly to ask how to do some of the easiest things.  I like to think that I have expanded my cooking knowledge ten fold since then and I can only hope that it gets better over time.  Enjoy the tips and I hope they help.

Cooking Pasta:

Many people are unaware how to measure pasta and tend to have a large amount of left overs when they make it.  Here is a starter tip.  If you are serving pasta as a main course you should use 4 oz per person.  A one pound box of pasta is enough to serve 4.  You would cut that number in half if you are serving the pasta as a side dish.  In other words, it would be 2 oz per person.

You want to bring your pot of water to a rolling boil before adding any pasta.  Once you have your water boiling you will want to add salt.  Add enough salt so that your water tastes like sea water.  Be sure not to add your salt before the water boils.

Add your pasta all at once bending the long pasta into the water as it softens.  Do not break your pasta to fit the pot.  Once the water has come back to a boil turn down the heat a bit to prevent the water from boiling over.  Boil the pasta al dente.  This means that you want to cook it till it is slightly firm in the middle.

Do not add any oil to your water.  Once you e pasta is added to the water your water level should be about 2 inches from the top.  This will prevent it from boiling over.  Adding oil will coat your pasta and prevent the sauce from sticking to them.

I have never followed the cooking times on the boxes since I have found them to be inaccurate.  Best thing to do is to remove one strand of pasta and allow it to cool.  Taste the cooled pasta and determine if it is to your liking.  I personally like my pasta softer than al dente.  It is all a matter of taste.  Once it is finished drain the pasta in a colander.  Some people like to preserve anywhere between 1/4 - 1/2 a cup of the cooking water to mix with their sauce.

Return the pasta to your pot (DO NOT RINSE PASTA WITH WATER) and add your sauce.  You can then add your reserved cooking water to the sauce.  Stir well and at this time you can add a splash of either heavy cream or olive oil to your sauce.  The reason for adding reserved water and heavy cream or olive oil together is that it allows the sauce to thicken and coats the pasta better.  I also reserve some sauce on the side.  Once you serve your pasta onto the plates you can add a bit more sauce for those who like their sauce heavier.

If you are cooking fresh pasta, you will want to cook a few minutes less as it will cook faster than dried pasta.  Another tip is to be very careful when stirring in your sauce with fresh pasta as it is very fragile.


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