I was going to put this post into my PORK SUGO post but I think this applies across the board to any pasta cookery at home. This guy is short and sweet, but extremely useful if you ever find yourself cooking pasta.
- NEVER cook the pasta as long as the manufacturer’s instructions. During my travels in Italy, one of my hosts told me, “Americans are always asking me how to cook the pasta so perfectly like the Italians. The answer is very simple. COOK IT LESS!!” This applies to both fresh and dried pasta. If the instructions are 10-12 minutes, I’ll go 9, sometimes 8 1/2 minutes.
- You should almost never rinse the pasta after cooking it. Some exceptions are for things like pasta salad, but any hot dishes that are being served immediately should never be rinsed. The starch from the cooked pasta adheres the sauce to the noodle. Washing it would be like putting oil on your hands and trying to play tug-of-war.
- Do not throw out your pasta water. This is another restaurant trick. Remember that starch from the pasta? A lot of that starch leaches out into the cooking water. If your sauce isn’t sticking well to the pan or is over-reduced, a few spoonfuls of pasta water will fix that in a jiffy. And since there is salt in the water, you won’t be thinning out the seasoning in the sauce.
- Place a little bit of grated cheese underneath your pasta before plating it. This step obviously only applies when you’re adding cheese to the pasta, but it helps slightly thicken the sauce and adds a salty touch to the last few bites of pasta on the plate.
- It’s rude to eat pasta when it’s cold. Dig in as soon as it hits the table.