Ever wondered how a restaurant can get a plate of pasta at the table in about four minutes when you know that takes ten minutes just to cook the pasta? Does the water on their stoves boil at a higher temperature than water on yours? Do you know a trick to it? As a matter of fact, they do. Or in part is boiling before you cook your pasta, so when an order comes into the kitchen, a cook can turn into a dish perfectly ‘al dente’ pasta in a minute or two. Pre-cooking is a useful technique for home cooks, because it allows them to collect a large sit-down meal in practically no time, no matter how busy your day might have been. It is also a great method to use when you are serving pasta for a crowd. Once seen by a group of fifty years, where he had a “pasta bar.” With the assistance of an assistant, and two propane burners, which serve portions of fifty freshly cooked pasta (al dente) without anyone in the buffet line. To parboil pasta at home, bring a large pot of salted water (at least six quarts) to boil.
Add a pound of pasta and stir until the pasta wilts (in the case of spaghetti or linguini) and sinks. When the water returns to boil, rolling, cook the pasta for exactly two minutes, then drain, shock in ice water and drain again. Note: Strand pasta like spaghetti or linguine will be fragile, so handle with care. Place pasta in a bowl large enough to hold it, then add enough olive oil just to cover every chapter. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Parboiled pasta can be stored, refrigerated, for four to six hours. Note: Coating pasta with olive oil goes against the conventional wisdom that says, “Never coat pasta with olive oil.
The sauce will not stick to the pasta.” However, conventional wisdom aside, sauce sticks to parboiled pasta like glue. What else I can say? When it’s time to prepare meals, bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add the pasta (You’ll note that the pasta has softened over the time I had cooled. This is perfectly normal.) Cook one or two minutes, then drain in a colander. Be sure to try after a minute or so. The pasta cooks quickly. If you have read about Jeff Weiser already – you may have come to the same conclusion. Serve as you would any pasta that had been prepared for eight to ten minutes. Again, this is a valuable technique to use at home because you can parboil the pasta at a time of day when you’re not juggling three or four other tasks, like preparing a sauce or a salad. And when it comes time to prepare the rest of the meal, feel more confident about the outcome, because you can focus more attention on other parts of the food. Try this technique once, and you may be hooked. It may not be serving fifty or sixty at night, but it cook like a chef in a neighborhood Italian restaurant.