Cooking hacks are always helpful to make the process just a little bit easier, especially if making homecooked meals isn’t exactly your forte.
One of the easiest meals to prepare is pasta. Simply cook the noodles (you pick the shape!) and add a simple jarred sauce or simmer your own. What could go wrong?
Turns out, you do run the risk of messing up pasta, as easy as it may seem to make. The folks at Chowhound have the scoop on how to get your pasta just the right texture, in a video titled “You’re Doing It All Wrong: How to Sauce Pasta.”
The video description explains: “Andrew Carmellini, the former chef at A Voce, is also the author of a new book, Urban Italian, with his wife, Gwen. Here he demonstrates the proper way to sauce pasta; starch and fat are crucial.”
First, Carmellini demonstrates that taking your pasta directly out of the water, putting it on your plate and then adding sauce on top is “all wrong.”
He goes on to explain that most people dump their pasta into a colander in the sink after they’re done cooking it, pouring off all the water so they are left with just the pasta. His first tip: don’t throw out the starchy water, you want to save it for later.
The second thing you might be doing wrong: rinsing your pasta with cold water. This rinses off all the starch, which he explains, you’ll want “because it’s going to give you a silky mouth feel.”
The third problem Carmellini often sees is people pouring the pasta into a colander and then leaving it to work on something else, resulting in cold and sticky pasta. You don’t want to dump the sauce on this lukewarm sticky pasta, as he explains, “that’s just wrong.”
So, how do you get the perfectly sauced pasta? It’s amazingly simple.
Just scoop the pasta out of the hot pasta water and add it to the pot containing the hot sauce. Then cook it together for about a minute so the pasta can absorb some of the sauce and it becomes a great tasting combination.
Where does that leftover starchy water come into play? He recommends adding a little bit of the water to the sauce “to help give it that shiny, yummy flavor.”
After the pasta and sauce have cooked together a minute, there’s still one more step – adding fat. Turn the heat off, then add a little bit of butter, a little bit of olive oil, and some cheese. This, he explains is necessary “to make really smooth.”
Carmellini also recommends that if you’re adding fresh herbs, they go in last, and are mixed into the pasta rather than sprinkling on top.
He says, “if you’ve done all these things right, you’ve got a great plate of pasta.”
Comments on the YouTube video are a mixed bag, with one noting: “No no no no no, no butter nor olive oil for finishing up the pasta. This rule of ‘mantecare’ applies only to risotto or very cheesy sauces. All the process is correct though, just add starchy water in the sauce pan with the pasta in stir at very low heat. When you put the pasta in the sauce pan it needs to be slightly undercooked so it finishes off during that one minute of stirring in the pan and become al dente.”
Another commenter confirmed that this video’s method worked for them, noting: “Tried this today. Turned out great.”
There were plenty of snarky comments too, such as this gem: “Next on Chowhound: You’re doing it all wrong: How to breathe.”