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Thinning Starchy Water

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I am an avid home cook but definitely no pro, so please forgive me if there is an obvious answer to my question. I recently made one pan pasta (http://food52.com/recipes/30147-martha-stewart-s-one-pan-pasta) and really enjoyed the simplicity and freshness, however, the pasta's starch water, which is the base for the "sauce", is very thick and glue-ey. Would one of you kind folks recommend a few options for thinning agents for a starchy liquid? The options would not necessarily have to be transparent in taste - they could be a nice addition to a fresh pasta sauce. Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Best,
Mr. G
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 
Any thoughts on this?
post #3 of 18

I'll be honest, I think these one-pan pasta dishes are a bit gimmicky.  Throwing a bunch of stuff in one pan might be easy but flavors develop through cooking the sauce in steps.  

 

I would make this recipe but I would make it in the traditional way.  By setting the water to boil and cooking the pasta separately while I sweat the onions and garlic in olive oil, then adding the pepper flakes, then adding the tomatoes.  Then I would toss in the linguini and a little bit of the pasta water just to make it the right consistency and stirring in fresh basil and the cheese.  It's not so complicated that it has to be simplified.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your thoughts, koukouvagia! I agree that this is gimmicky, and how you described cooking it properly is the way I would usually cook this dish. As I am a new father, I can't always make as much time as I'd like to for cooking every night - I save more elaborate recipes (Pot Au Feu last night) for weekends typically - so this approach seemed like a good alternative to not having the time to cook at all. Not ideal, I understand.

Though it is a compromise and for experimentation's sake, I am still curious from a professional chef's and/or cooking chemistry perspective what agent breaks down starches.

Thanks,
Mr. G
post #5 of 18

4 to 6 qtr of water to 1lb of pasta. Make sure the pasta is swimming in the pasta and not over crowd in the boiling water. In most cases you will 'salt like the ocean' meaning a lot of salt. If your recipe calls for the use of pasta water then watch the amount of salt.......

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, ChefBillyB. That is how I standardly cook pasta and I agree, salting like the ocean is a delicious technique.

Mr. G
post #7 of 18

If you cook it with this method I cannot think of anyway to make it less starchy.  With this method you are cooking away the water, thus concentrating the amount of starch.  You can add more water which will dilute the starch but it will dilute the flavors as well and make it watery.  You can add wine but wine cooks off too.  Maybe you can use tomato water.  None of these options will prove beneficial in texture or flavor though.  You're better off throwing all the ingredients in one pan and cooking the pasta separately.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 18

Who ever came up with this shortcut should be shot. My dad's wife does crap like this when she makes spaghetti, it is inedible.

What happens when you cook pasta? Starch cooks out, you further reduce that you have glue. I can't believe all the good comments on that recipe.

Goes to show you how uneducated most people are about food. I have friends that are stay at home moms, etc and can't even make mashed potatoes because they grew up as the microwave and convenience foods were budding, their moms either being on a budget or a two income family used this crap willingly, never teaching the kids how to cook, now they serve this stuff to their kids because that's all they know and the kids will never learn how to cook.

 

If you can take the time to cut up a few things for your pasta, you can cook the pasta at the same time. As @IceMan says "It ain't rocket surgery"

post #9 of 18

There is a simple answer that works with the original recipe, mostly.

 

Use no-boil lasagna noodles. Break them up into the recipe in the desired size. Use less water, probably about half as a starting point. A lid can be handy if your pasta is cooking dry too fast, or to help cook edges sticking up out of the sauce.  They cook al dente in about 5 minutes. 

 

The no-boil lasagna noodles are made either by pre-cooking or rolling less densely so they can cook in the dish without the heavy starch release  http://www.chowhound.com/food-news/54306/how-are-no-boil-lasagna-noodles-made/  Ronzoni, San Giorgio, Creamette, Prince, American Beauty, and Skinner are brands that are pre-cooked and should release very little starch into the dish. American Beauty is the cheapest brand readily available in my area, but that will likely vary by location somewhat. 

 

This is something I do regularly for camping based on ideas in America's Test Kitchen one skillet lasagna recipe. http://www.today.com/food/so-simple-make-these-dinners-single-skillet-1D80361494  If you're using the no-boil noodles, you can skip the can of tomato sauce unless you like it saucy. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you very much, Koukouvagia and phatch. Very good points and interesting regarding the no-boil lasagna noodles.

Regarding the hostility, I am surprised. I have read this forum for a long time and have typically witnessed and enjoyed more constructive behavior.

I am a believer in knowledge and research. I have researched many fields - audio, music, computer programming, business, cooking, barbecueing, outdoor lifestyles, etc. - and I have learned these fields the most thoroughly and innovatively by not looking down my nose at new concepts. I cook 3-4 times a week in cast iron, ECI, non-stick, and stainless, know my knife skills, and am skilled in heat control and quite a few different cooking techniques. I know these things because I took the time to study them, and because I asked questions and practiced until I understood the concepts in theory and in practice.

This was just a question to learn something further, as I realized I didn't know how to thin an overly-starchy mixture. Thanks for all of the constructive advice.
post #11 of 18

There is no hostility here, the recipe you're using is just not a very good recipe and all the skill in the world is not going to make it as good as the traditional method.  That's just my opinion.

 

I suppose we live in a world where we are constantly trying to find the easiest, fastest and most efficient way to do something.  There are some shortcuts that are definitely worth it, I just don't think this one is it nuff said.

 

Congrats on the new baby.  I remember when I had my baby how difficult it was to get dinner on the table.  It was nice to have occasional help from friends and family.  

 

Do you have an electric kettle?  Those things boil a ton of water in a minute flat, it's great for when you're in a hurry to boil water for pasta.  Or if you want to still go through with this particular recipe then use cappellini instead, it will cook up faster with less liquid.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 18

A little water drizzled in at the end should accomplish your goal. Keep in mind that as the dish cools, the starch will cause it to thicken, so go to plate and serve quickly.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #13 of 18

MrG, there was no hostility in that post towards you. I was merely expressing my disdain to these types of recipes, the internet is full of them and the food network personality's freely promote them, dumbing down this easy pasta meal.

You can make a wonderful pasta dish with the ingredients in the recipe, it's all about time management.

 

Put a pot of water on to boil while you are gathering up the rest of the ingredients, now the water is boiling, add the pasta, go play with the baby for a few minutes, start your saute pan, toss in your garlic,chili flakes add the tomatoes, now the pasta is done, drain it and throw in the pan, add cheese, herbs,season, plate it, your done. quick & simple.

 

You have learned some good skills, continue to hone them and learn. Work on your time management and multitasking, it will get easier.

post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for the additional insights.

Koukouvagia, I hear your point about this not being a shortcut worth it's while, and I appreciate the tip on cappellini. The electric kettle is a very good idea too that I had never thought of!

phatch, I meant to say that I appreciated the link to the america's test kitchen article - definitely will try this at some point!

cheflayne, thank you very much and I will bear that in min!

chefbuba, thank you for clarifying. I appreciate your insights regarding multitasking and planning a meal, as that is probably at the heart of this matter. In my humble opinion, it is definitely one of the most impressive and difficult skills to master in the kitchen, especially to do with ease. I appreciate your breakdown of the flow and will try that next time I do quick pasta!

Thanks to everyone for the input - I am very appreciative of learning from and with this community. I think the verdict is to trash this recipe, but if I'm in need this thread will help me salvage it smile.gif


Best,
Mr. G
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGalup View Post

I think the verdict is to trash this recipe

 

I would say that is a good call.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post
 

MrG, there was no hostility in that post towards you. I was merely expressing my disdain to these types of recipes, the internet is full of them and the food network personality's freely promote them, dumbing down this easy pasta meal.

You can make a wonderful pasta dish with the ingredients in the recipe, it's all about time management.

 

Put a pot of water on to boil while you are gathering up the rest of the ingredients, now the water is boiling, add the pasta, go play with the baby for a few minutes, start your saute pan, toss in your garlic,chili flakes add the tomatoes, now the pasta is done, drain it and throw in the pan, add cheese, herbs,season, plate it, your done. quick & simple.

 

You have learned some good skills, continue to hone them and learn. Work on your time management and multitasking, it will get easier.

I was going to make this but we don't have a baby......

post #17 of 18

You could go out and rub the little piggies bellies.

post #18 of 18

I made this once for S's & G's and it's a desperate  novelty at best and a perfect waste of good ingredients.  Martha can cook - what was she thinking?  :rolleyes: 


Edited by Mike9 - 1/11/16 at 7:21pm
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