General Rules for Cooking Pasta

All pastas, even those not specifically mentioned, may be cooked according to principles outlined here. Briefly, all pasta is cooked in gently boiling salted water (though the term used is poaching when referring to canneloni and ravioli). Baking or full gratination are terms applied to lasagnes and canneloni when they are barely covered with sauce in a service dish, sprinkled with grated parmesan cheese and melted butter and placed in an oven at a temperature of 170°C until the cheese melts and forms a light crust or skin. Light gratination is a term applied to those items mixed with Sauce Mornay, sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese and melted butter and placed under a salamander grill until an even golden color on the surface.

The following list indicates a number of general points to be borne in mind when cooking pasta:
(a) Cooking times are: 5-7 minutes for the very fine type (i.e. vermicelli); 9-12 minutes for medium size pastas (i.e. noodles and spaghetti); 12–15 minutes for thick pastas (i.e. macaroni, lasagne and ravioli).
(b) Allow 10 g raw weight per person of pasta when used as a garnish with a soup, e.g. Consommé Vermicelli; 30 g raw weight of pasta when used as a garnish with a main dish, e.g. Escalope de Veau Milanaise; and 50-60 g when served as the basis of a main course, e.g. Spaghetti Bolognaise.
(c) Always cook pasta items in plenty of water.
(d) Overcooked pasta items cannot be rectified.
(e) Never overfill the cooking receptacle with pasta.
(f) Stir or agitate the pasta whilst it is cooking, especially at the initial stages, with a wooden spatule.
(g) Canneloni and lasagnes are always refreshed after cooking in order to facilitate further handling, e.g. inserting the filling.
(h) Leave the strands of spaghetti, noodles and vermicelli unbroken both before and during cooking unless they are specifically for soup garnishes.
(i) Whether the pasta is for immediate use or is to be retained for later use, it should be cooked to a degree that is referred to as al dente; it should not be overcooked so that it becomes too soft. The Italian term has a very clear meaning and describes a very slightly chewy texture.
(j) In most instances all pasta items are served with an accompanying sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. The sauce is generally an extension of a basic sauce.
(k) Once butter or a sauce has been added to pasta the dish cannot be reheated using traditional methods.
(l) Change the chaudfont water frequently when reheating pasta.


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