Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Generic Pasta Recipe

Nowadays everyone can be a chef, just follow the thousands of recipes on YouTube. What is a generic pasta recipe? Here are a few tips on how to do a good pasta. It is for home cooks who don't want to make their own pasta or sauces. Just buy decent pasta and pasta sauces and cook them yourselves.

Decent and widely available pasta:  De Cecco is my pick

Good sauces:  Paul Newman's sauces are pretty good, SACLA (my favourite), Mezzetta

Chillies: Try not to use fresh chillies, does not go that well with pasta. Use dried chillies, soak in water first before chopping them up, otherwise won't be spicy in the pasta dish.

Mince Meats: Pork, beef or lamb minces (or even chicken mince... but my fav is still lamb) go well with basic pasta dishes with any off the shelf sauces.

Marination of mince meats: This is the critical part of what makes a really good pasta dish. While there are hundreds of combinations, my favoured marination is: Use 2 tbs shallot oil, 1 tbs ginger oil, a pinch of sea salt, a liberal sprinkling of white pepper and ground black pepper, 1 tbs of chili oil if you like it spicy. Mix and let it sit in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Start The Cooking: You can use olive oil but I prefer butter, a generous dollop on low heat with 1 tsp minced garlic. Then add minced meat and cook until well done. Then use cooking cream to bind the bloody thing together, not a lot, just 3-4 tbs. However cooking cream is optional. Taste, then add sea salt as to your preference.

Pasta: Use a liberal amount of salt into boiling water. Only put in pasta when water is boiling. Save some of water for later.

Fresh Herbs:  Can chop some basil, parsley or oregano if you are doing tomato based sauces. For white sauces, chop some rosemary, sage or thyme. Again, highly optional, but if you do, throw them in towards the last 1/3 of your cooking, not at the beginning.
(finish product without veggies)

Finish: Drop the cooked pasta into mix. Put in 2-3 tbs of pasta water and cook out till its got a good consistency. May use parmesan cheese to melt into the sauce (optional). I prefer to melt the parmesan in rather than sprinkle on top later. A key step is to add 1 tsp of sugar just to round off the taste.

Vegetables: Prefer squash, baby asparagus or snow peas (hard veggies). Cook together when boiling pasta. Scoop out first when half done as will be cooked alongside with mix later.

Texture: An important summary of a good pasta dish - there should be differing textures. Think of macaroni and cheese, there is basically only one texture, or porridge, boring. Thus the pasta, meat, sauce, veggies and condiments at the end should help you conjure a dish with 2-3 differing textures.

Sprinkle at the end: These are highly optional. Remember less is more when it comes to pasta dishes - do not attempt to put too many different flavours into one dish. May or may not go with the dishes, up to your own taste buds. Truffle oil; tobiko; parmesan; caviar...







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