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Water for pasta

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
For the longest time I had thought that pasta should be cooked in rapidly, violently boiling water. I had read this in books, heard chefs say, etc. But Mario Batali specifically points out over and over and at a cooking demo I attended that the water should only be "smiling". What is the difference and is one better than the other?
post #2 of 13
Hi there :)

I've always been under the impression that you bring the water to a vigorous boil, so that it doesn't loose to much temperature when you add the pasta.

I usually bring it to a good boil...salt the water...add the pasta and return the water to a nice simmer (smile). Once the pasta is done...I drain well reserving some of the pasta water and then add some sauce to the un-rinsed pasta. Mix the sauce in and serve with reserved sauce on the side.

I'll be interestingly awaiting the answers from the seasoned (lol) members here with you :)

thanks,

dan
post #3 of 13
Like JohnRov, I've always believed that a rolling boil was best for most pastas -- the strands or cut pieces are far less likely to stick together and therefore cook unevenly. And especially for fresh pasta, which needs such a short cooking time, I agree with gonefishin on the need to keep the water boiling hot enough to cook the pasta rapidly.

That said: What kind of pasta was he cooking? If it was a filled pasta (ravioli, tortellini, etc.) made fresh from fresh dough, maybe that would be the case -- so as not to cause them to break open. (Although in The Babbo Cookbook, he gives similar instructions for only one out of eleven filled pastas -- and for none of the cut or long ones.)
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 13
I can not remember the expression, but trans. to english it's "don't use a meat grinder to boil the pasta". I'm thinking that Mario is leading towards that. I also think he is probably refering to the water to pasta ratio. Soo important. You need that tremendous boil if you don't have enough water so that you can recover quicker from the temp fall. I'm also going to assume that he is probably using fresh, and that his dried is more of an Italian dry and may need a longer cook time, but can't be beat up. The answer is usually in you water. :D you can use the water to maybe thin or add a little level to the gravy. But it is really not intended to be used as a roux:smoking: That's all I know about it. I would never put pasta into a vigorously boiling pot, it would be like putting delecate dumplings into the same water.
pan

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post #5 of 13
Pasta and it's preparation is like poetry, You have to read between the lines. Put your heart/love into it and you will get exactly that out of it. Nuff said.:chef:
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post #6 of 13

hi

Hi,

well i think there is a little difference or nearly none if you boil or simmer pasta, the most important is that the water reaches 95 degrees celsious and up so that your pasta is properly cooked and looses the floury taste. I think more important is to cook them right al dente.

regards
post #7 of 13
I take Mario's phrase to mean a low boil, with the water moving just enough to keep the pasta from becoming stuck together. I would think this would be best for fresh (unfilled) pasta like tagliatelle, linguine, etc. Dry pasta I would put into a more fully boiling pot, but not with the water jumping out.

Does that make any sense??
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post #8 of 13
I will have to agree.
If you make pasta you know the feeling as your leaving that kneading stage and heading toward the finish. You become easier, smoother, delicate, with the handling of your dough. I can't think of any doughs that prefer to be roughed up at this point.
This ? is easily answered and not so costly. Cook them both ways. See the results. I know there is many schools of thought about pasta and some methods reflect the unique preference of the Cooker/eater.
There is very little difference in rapid/vigorous boiling water and simmering water if any.
The vigorous boiling water has many more convection currents. So if you had a large tub of water at boiling temp and a washing machine tube with an aggitator going at boiling temp, which one would you put your pasta in.:eek:
Hey! I'm not dissagreeing with anyone. I'm just having some fun. This is just my opinion.:talk:
pan
ps I also stir, which freaks some people out.
Above, I meant there is no difference in water temp,boiling,simmer,rolling

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post #9 of 13
If the water jumps out the pot is too small. :chef:
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One time a guy pulled a knife on me. I could tell it wasn't a professional job; it had butter on it.- Rodney Dangerfield -


'We're ALL amateurs; It's just that some of us are more professional about it than others'. - George Carlin
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http://www.frappr.com/chefsunited
One time a guy pulled a knife on me. I could tell it wasn't a professional job; it had butter on it.- Rodney Dangerfield -


'We're ALL amateurs; It's just that some of us are more professional about it than others'. - George Carlin
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post #10 of 13
To cook pasta on a full rolling boil is to be in time with it, If you want to back off of the pace turn it down. The results speak for themselves. I prefer a full interaction/energy with the food I cook. I run the food, It does not run me.:chef:
http://www.frappr.com/chefsunited
One time a guy pulled a knife on me. I could tell it wasn't a professional job; it had butter on it.- Rodney Dangerfield -


'We're ALL amateurs; It's just that some of us are more professional about it than others'. - George Carlin
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One time a guy pulled a knife on me. I could tell it wasn't a professional job; it had butter on it.- Rodney Dangerfield -


'We're ALL amateurs; It's just that some of us are more professional about it than others'. - George Carlin
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post #11 of 13
Ok, this might shock some people, but Elizabeth David mentions that one traditional way to cook pasta was to let it boil for 3 minutes or so (if I remember rightly) and then put a tight lid on the pot and turn it off. The pasta is al dente after the normal cooking time. The texture is a little different -- I'm undecided as to which I prefer, in part because I have spent most of my life eating boiled pasta. I suspect the novel method would take a sauce better.
post #12 of 13
I think the key question is whether or not you are cooking fresh pasta as opposed to dry. Fresh pasta cooks fast and does not need to have the life boiled out of it. Dry pasta should indeed be cooked at a boil as it usually will take close to eight minutes to reach al dente. Always keep your pasta moving, fresh and dry, when in "the pool", especially the broader or flatter the shape like fettucini or parpadelle.
post #13 of 13

Perfect pasta by pizza

I've been cooking pasta for some time, and I don't think the water makes to much diffrence as long as it's not less than a rolling boil, to be safe with either fresh or dry keep the water between rolling boil and full boil.
I would consider much more important the slating of the water because even
if you have a well seasoned sauce the pasta itself may still be a little tasteless.
I also believe that using a little water from the pasta and a little of your sauce brings the best results in finishing a pasta only when olive oil or butter
are used to bind. This finish will leave all pasta evenly coated. Enjoy.
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