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precooked pasta

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I've got 2 jobs coming up this weekend, Sat for 550 people &
Sunday at noon for 450. I usually only take 1 job a weekend and do all of my prep the day before. But I need to start a few days earlier for this one. The only thing I can prep early is the pasta and the fett. sauce.Would Wed. be to early?
I use to work for a hotel that held cooked pasta for a week. Quality was not an issue. Come to think of it...everything was held for a week. Since working there, I never dine anywhere unless they're busy, busy , busy.
Anyway getting back to my question. I'm used to making everything the day of or before. All of my veggies will be prepped the day before and the breads baked that morning. But I need to get ahead start with my pastas if possible. I'm doing fettucini, pasta con broc,and a cold bowtie pasta salad.
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post #2 of 14
I would suggest waiting until thurs. to cook off your pasta, and prep everything that is going to go into your pasta salad. Then on friday, assemble the salad. The sauces would be fine if prepared on wednesday.

Ciao....paisan
post #3 of 14
Paisan is right on! Thurs cook pasta, fri. assemble in lexan tub, sat., reconstitute test for seasoning. Bowl and garnish ;)
post #4 of 14

holding pasta

add some of the cooking water to the pasta you want to hold, will help to keep from clumping....cook al-dente or little less, the steam-tables will cook the pasta more....but use the cooking water to hold...will avoid having to use too much oil, dont want greasy noodles for service.......good luck and have fun
post #5 of 14
RSteve wrote:
post #6 of 14
RSteve,

Now,this is something I have debated with co-workers and chefs a lot: to rinse the pasta at all.
I will not rinse pasta;I put it on sheetpans after oiling lightly and let it cool down in the cooler or blast-chiller and will go and toss it to make sure it's cooling evenly.
I've never rinsed it because the starch is what is holding the sauce to the pasta,but we all have our ways!
CMC Lawrence McFadden does it the no-rinse way,and I'm not about to argue with him!
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

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post #7 of 14
I assure you that the residual starch is not holding the sauce to the pasta. I cannot imagine cooking off 25 pounds of shaped pasta for salads and not keeping it in ice water. The quantity of oil you'd have to use to keep the pasta separate would be extremely costly and make for a very oily mouth feel. It's a totally different situation when you cook pasta for immediate saucing and serving; then it's always no rinse and toss in some quality oil or butter.
post #8 of 14
RSteve,

Do you really mean to imply "keeping in ice water" or was the statment meant to imply shocking it in ice water?

IMHPO, after cooking thousands of pounds of pasta throughout my career there is certainly a huge difference between the two.

Shocking the pasta can be considered a form of rinsing but it serves the purpose of preserving the al dente process and makes no mistake for error upon reheating. Serving 400lbs a night of several different pasta's makes this process almost impossible not to use. The process still allows the pasta to retain a good portion of starch and believe it or not the starch that Atl speaks of does help with the sauce more that you believe.

As far as keeping in ice water wouldn't the pasta become more gummy and bloated. Almost to the point of breaking down and having the flavor diluted even before the final process is applied? Also if you are precooking the pasta and oiling it to keep it from sticking the rule of thumb is typically about 1/2 cup of oil per 10lbs cooked tossed well after drained well.

If you find yourself having to use more than that you're not allowing the pasta to drain properly or the pasta is still too warm and is absorbing the oil. Since you precook pasta to the al dente state it will act like a sponge for any form of liquid that is introduced. It's not rocket scientry yet it does take some form of control it's storage enviroment.
post #9 of 14
Well,to each his own and we will agree to disagree.I come from an Italian family and we never rinsed pasta [except lasagna noodles].I also would not keep any pasta in ice water for any reason;it bloats and absorbs too much fluid.
Pasta does not have the same carry-over cooking that say a blanched veggie does,so shocking in ice water is not really needed.
25 pounds of pasta is nothing;I've done it with 50 to 80 lbs with no problems.My friend was a saucier at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples,FL [flagship property;5 Star,5 Diamond resort] in the early 90's and he worked under McFadden and trust me,if he even saw you rinse pasta,your butt was in trouble.That man was [and still is] all about quality and perfection.
He did the same process with cooling on sheetpans with VERY LITTLE oil [not much is needed;toss with your hands and it distributes evenly].Considering McFadden's level of skill and expertise,I'd trust his methods and was happy to hear I'm not the only one who doesn't rinse pasta....and the Naples Ritz does massive volume.
Rinse some pasta and do a batch as I described and tell me you don't notice a difference in the sauce clinging to the pasta.I'm a Wop;trust me!:)
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #10 of 14

al dente and shock it...

I have always cooked pasta al dente.. shocked it and then given it a nice coat of oil and portioned it into utility bags to be opened when needed during service. I find that any more than a few days and the pasta starts to go soft and lose its flavor. I would love to try the blast chiller method of Chef McFadden, however I do not have one, and am pretty sure I will not be getting one any time soon... which brings me to my point.

Here in the real world, where not every tool is at our disposal, we need to accomplish certain tasks. With that in mind... my 2 cents.

Not rinsing the pasta will add to the sauce's ability to stick to the pasta, - as will adding some pasta water to the sauce and letting it reduce into the finished product - however without a blast chiller I need to stop my pasta from cooking, and shocking is the only way to do that. I could dramatically under cook my pasta and allow it to cool in my walk in... but, um... yipes my walk in is wicked small and being an Italian restaurant I cook A LOT of pasta each day. So.. back to shocking in the real world.

You have two big catering gigs coming up, you don't have a blast cooler, nor are you a CMC and you need to get the job done. Cook you pasta al dente no more than two days before the event... shock it cold... portion it to the size that suits your needs. Reheat it by just dunking it in boiling water long enough to heat it through and sell it.

This, by the way, is not compromising it is reality.

If Chef McFadden has any openings let me know. I'll wash dishes and work my way up.
post #11 of 14

wow....

Man, one of the things that I am never going to get used to on this site is the old posts coming out of nowhere. The originating post on this thread is five years old!

And here I was looking for a solution to the problem of two events this weekend. ...

Still Pete... you should not hold your pasta in the water it was cooked in. That will most certainly NOT prevent it from "clumping".
post #12 of 14
Cookingwithfat,

Trust me,I know we all don't have blast chillers [only been at two places that have one] and not all of us are lucky enough to have a big cooler [s] where we can load up three or four speed racks with cooling pasta.:)
I've shocked pasta many times [even now if the event is really big,like a plate-up for 2000 and we have 20 more events for the same day] and while it is not my preferred method,I'll do it if that's the way the chef does it.I'm not standing there going "This is wrong!" and being a snob about it.As long as you get from Point 'A' to Point 'B' in an manner that works for the establishment.I learned long ago that some battles aren't worth fighting.
Obviously,methods have to be tailored for each situation and you work with what you have available.No need to imply that shocking is a "compromise" [just another method,that's all] or that I am not in "the real world" or that I am not familiar with "reality".I worked in a small Italian restaurant where the Exec,sous and I were all from the North AND from Italian families.We all agreed we preferred the non-shocking,but space and time were issues,so we shocked it/dropped in boiling water for service,etc.
We still put out great food we were proud of and there were no compromises to quality.
Hmmm...does McFadden have openings? With a property that size,I'd have to say yes!:)
thru the grapevine,he stepped down from Worldwide Corporate Executive Chef position and is now the GM of Naples.With all he accomplished before the age of 40,I'm guessing he said "You know;I'd like to see my kids grow up instead of being overseas all the time with new properties". He would actually make trips to CIA and hand-pick grads to work.
My friend still talks about working there with him,because as hard and demanding as McFadden was,it was the dream job for learning,seeing how an operation like that SHOULD run and adhering to very tight standards.If you wanted to copy one of his recipes,he had no problem with it as long as you treated it with the respect it deserved.If he won a competition with a particular recipe,it was clearly typed on the top of it!
He also said it was the only time that he had seen a chef so incredibly respected.no one ever said "Oh,McFadden is a real schmuck" or anything of that nature.He'd greet everyone with a smile and their first name.And you'd put in your 100 hour week and feel honored just to be there.
I did a stage at a charity event a couple of years ago [all guest chefs] and he was there,of course.I won't lie;I went simply because I was going to be in the same building with this culinary legend.As stupid and teenage as it sounds,even seeing him walk by was like the first time I saw King Crimson play...like a freaking groupie..:o
"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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"Sometimes people can be oh so dense"

The Pixies
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post #13 of 14
I fully agree with cooking till al dente the tossing with oil and spreading out quickly on a sheet pan to cool. You can shock in water if you feel you must to stop the cooking but be sure to drain it well.

I hate pasta stored in water. It does indeed get bloated and watered down. You will never get a sauce to taste robust on pasta stored this way.

For the pasta for the salad you could go ahead and toss with a touch of your vinaigrette. The pasta will absorb some of it and the flavors without the bloat.

I personally do not like to rinse my pasta. I used to a long long time ago but feel that the starch left on the outside of the pasta does tend to encourage the viscosity of the sauce.

(It says I'm a home cook but I had my own catering company for 20 years so do have some commercial experience.)
post #14 of 14
:talk:I agree with steve. Noodle pudding is not a good thing and starch will be your enemy
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