Grandma did it. Your mom did it, too, and she taught you to do it. Most of us reach for the colander the moment our pasta is ready, but professional chefs claim that there is a better way. You won’t believe how perfect your pasta will be once you prepare it like a professional chef.
Most boiled noodles leave behind a thick, gloppy liquid. No one wants that. Or do you? Usually, you whip out the colander, strain, rinse with cold water and then serve up your noodles. But wait a minute–chefs say you really do want that residue liquid, because it’s part of what makes restaurant pasta dishes so amazing.
Oftentimes your pasta noodles become sticky once that liquid is gone. So instead, chefs say you should scoop out the pasta with a strainer or slotted spoon so that there is still some liquid left on the noodles and some in the pot to use later. Transfer the noodles immediately to a pot of pasta sauce that you had ready to go on a stove top burner. Do not plunk the pasta down on a plate where it gets cold waiting on you to pour sauce over it.
By mixing the noodles with the sauce in a pot for about one minute, you’re commingling the sauce’s delicious flavors with the pasta noodles that now more easily absorbs those flavors. That’s because you haven’t washed off the starch from the pasta by straining it.
Remember the goopy water you just boiled your noodles in? Take one cup full of that liquid and add it to the pot of sauce and noodles, which will enhance the starch content of the pasta, giving it a rich, robust flavor. It also gives the pasta noodles that shiny look you see in restaurants, so they not only look great, they taste great. Andrew Carmellini, the former chef at A Voce and author of the book, Urban Italian, with his wife, Gwen emphasizes that starch and fat are crucial to creating the proper pasta dish.
“That way the pasta can absorb some of the sauce and it becomes like a great tasting stew.”
Now turn the heat off the burner and add one to four tablespoons of butter to the pot of pasta, mixing it together well. This makes the dish creamier. Splash in some oil olive, then grated cheese if you’d like. If you prefer to add herbs to your recipes, add them at the very end of your cooking prep process. Mix them into the pasta instead of serving on top.
Here’s the step-by-step process led by Andrew.
Serve up your pasta dish warm and ready to eat. You can even grate some extra cheese on top for added flavor. Pair it with the perfect beverage and enjoy!