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Pasta - holding in butter questions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Please comment on my plans for pasta.

I'm preparing pear and piccorino ravioli and pumpkin tortellini to be served in a butter herb sauce. I will be making and freezing the pasta in advance. On day of service, I plan to barely cook the pastas in salted water, combine them with the butter/starch/herb sauces and hold them in covered hotel pans in a warmer. They will then be placed I chafing dishes for service

Will this work or will the pasta fall apart? Shall I precook and then finish in sauce just before service (I have limited help)? Am I wasting the 'homemade' effort and should just go commercial?
post #2 of 11

How much or how many people are you serving over what period of time?

 

How long will you have to "hold the pasta", just for service?

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
The party will be for 70-80 from 7.30 to 10. There will be number of other selections (marinated antipasti, lamb pops, shrimp, meatballs, etc. I've done this crowd for many years and starches/high fats don't go fast (appreiciative eaters but no gorgers). I'd prefer doing the pasta in advance given the limited help I'm planning on - but could hire someone to do a pasta station but then we're moving into buffet versus party.

I'm cooking onsite from noon on.
post #4 of 11

Fill a hotel pan with pasta so you know what a pan will hold. Freeze this amount in a plastic bag. The day of the party cook this amount, drain it and put right in chafer with sauce. Ravioli and tort do not hold up well when covered in a heater . They get gummy. And since you have access to boiling water anyway do it then.Stay 1 bag ahead cooked.then room temp  to reheat, just dip it in boiling water and sauce.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the help both of you. I suppose I knew the answer but just wanted some magic trick. I'll cook and sauce as needed to keep the chafing dish looking good. I'd rather not precook, rinse and hold since the sauce/starch doesn't adhere to the pasta.
post #6 of 11

It will adhere if you do not use oil after rinse.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #7 of 11

BTW, there's no such thing as "barely cooked" ravioli.  They are either undercooked, cooked, or over cooked.  Cooked is a very brief window. 

 

Holding par-cooked ravioli is not much of a time saver.  Holding un-cooked ravioli frozien can be a good thing for a lot of reasons.  Make your dumplings on the small side, don't over fill, and all will be simpler.   

 

When you make the ravioli, transfer them from a board to a sheet pan lined with parchment or a sil pat, and dust on both sides with corn starch, before freezing.  That will keep them from sticking together while they freeze.

 

When you cook frozen ravioli, they'll want to clump and stick together, even more than freshly made raviolis.  That's partly just the nature of frozen pasta and partly the corn starch.  But, you can't have everything.

 

The solution is to have several pots of water going, cook in batches so as to avoid overcrowding, stir while cooking, and oil or sauce immediately as they come out of the pot. 

 

Once they're sauced, they'll hold long enough for you to fill the pan and get it to the chaffer; while you prep the next pan.   To preserve the appearance, don't put the ravioli down more than 2 layers give or take.  Pans which are too full make it difficult for diners to get an appropriate amount of sauce; worse, it looks more cafeteria than catered. 

 

Baste one last time after the little guys are in the pan, and get some herbs -- even if only parsley-- and some toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts down on them just as they move to the buffet line.  That will make them look very fresh.   Sage sprigs would go very well -- if you can trust the diners not to try and eat them whole.

 

Your group size is largish for working with my methods -- which are as labor intensive as they are quality oriented.  

 

If you want to go that way, you may indeed need someone to do nothing but cook and run raviolis from opening the line all the way through the crush -- which for 70 will be something like 4 no. 1 pans.  By the time the buffet line is picked over and the other pans need refresh and refill, you should be able to use her (or him) for other duties as well. 

 

Hope this helps -- if only as another way of looking at it,

BDL

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
What's the diff from oiling pasta and using the butter sauce which is comprised of butter (browned or sweet), pasta water and perhaps some herbs and oiling the paasta. Could I cook the pasta, butter sauce them, cool, reheat or hold, and serve? I can understand if the sauce where more moist or acidic . . .
post #9 of 11

The ravioli will be tough, gummy, soggy, greasy and/or falling apart.  Otherwise, delicious.

 

BDL

post #10 of 11

This thread is helpful, but if you don't mind, I've got a related question.

 

I am doing a pasta station for a wedding next weekend.  Penne is one of the pastas and butternut squash ravioli is the other.  I am confident that I can precook the penne as we do this all the time.  How much in advance do I dare to cook the ravioli or should I cook it onsite just before service?  As we are off site caterers, cooking it at the cafe and holding it for 3 hours or so just won't work.  Should I cook it onsite, toss it with olive oil and hold it for less than an hour then heat the sauce in the saute pan  and add the ravioli?

 

I hate it when I agree to do something I've never done before.....

post #11 of 11

Our Pasta station is set on a laced  quarter round with a back bar. It is 1 chafer, 2 propane stoves with 12 to 14 inch clean saute pans. 3 bowls with 3 different sauces, 2 bowls with 2 types of pre- cooked pasta , a pourer of olive oil and some grated pecorino. We do it to order in front of the guest, Saute pasta, add sauce, simmer,6 or 7 inch buffet plate plate. Hold any extra made pasta in chaffer.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
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