Welcome to the Whole Grain Pasta Cooking School! In this space we share tips and strategies for cooking whole grain pasta in a school foodservice environment. Today’s lesson: “Water is the Enemy of Pasta!”
We know what you’re thinking — don’t you need water to cook pasta? How can they be enemies? And you’re right, water is indispensible for turning dry pasta into delicious pasta on the plate or the steamtable. So maybe they’re frenemies. We get the lesson phrase from our Chef Bruno Wehren, who stresses the point when training chefs and schools about pre- or par-cooking their pastas. The key point to remember — anytime pasta is in contact with hot liquid, it will continue to cook. You may actually be cooking your pasta without realizing it!
- While draining: especially in big volume steam kettles, it can take a few minutes just to drain the water. Each one of those minutes counts as cooktime!
- What to do about it? Adjust your cooktime as needed to account for draining time.
- In a hot-box or steamtable: when you’re holding pasta in hot (as in temperature, not spicy) sauce, it will continue to cook!
- What to do about it? Avoid holding pasta for long durations, and cook in batches throughout service.
- In the walk-in: Shake your cooled pasta well in the colander to remove any drops of water before putting it in the walk-in.
- Why? Even though the water isn’t hot, if you have water or melted ice in your storage bags or bins for pre-cooked pasta, the pasta will absorb it, especially over long periods of time.
If you have a specific question about whole grain pasta cooking procedures, send us a note at [email protected]