“Not to sound arrogant, I may be a little bit of a pasta snob,” says Executive Chef Alex Tubero of Amali in Manhattan. For us, that’s a plus. Finally, someone to tell us everything we need to know to make better pasta at home.
Amali was a successful restaurant before Chef Tubero showed up, but since his time, it’s been even better. Not only that, it serves, in our opinion, some of the best pasta in the city. Chef Tubero insisted that all of the pasta be made fresh in house. It’s part of his philosophy, he says, “I think a lot of chefs like to do things that make their lives harder because they think it tells a cool story. But I say this to all my sous chefs and my cooks, if we're gonna do something, it better make a fucking difference, you know?”
Making pasta correctly is one of those things that makes a big difference. Here, Chef Tubero shares his three favorite tips for making pasta at home, and how to ensure you’re making it the very best you can.
At Amali, all of the pasta is made fresh. This is a lot less likely for home cooks, though Chef Tubero does advocate for it, if you have the time and the space. However, there are plenty of good dry, store-bought options. “I really love Rustichella d’Abruzzo for everyday use,” says Chef Tubero. “I think people have a bad representation of what dry pasta is from Barilla but DeCecco is actually not that bad. You can make really delicious pasta with DeCecco.”
Whether you’re using fresh or dry pasta, you’ll want to let it cook in the sauce. At Amali, this is all part of a process. “We're timing our sauces, from when the cooks put into the bowl, to when it comes to the window, to when it gets to your table. By that point, it's the perfect consistency, right. Coming out of the kitchen, the sauce is a little bit too loose, but by the time we get to your table, it's perfect,” says Chef Tubero.
This is yet another reason to not boil your pasta to death before it ever comes in contact with the sauce. Allow your pasta to have some time in the sauce, both to finish cooking and to absorb some of the flavor. Plus, it will improve the texture of the overall dish as well.
Chef Tubero advocates using our Saucier for mixing pasta and its sauce. “You kind of have to beat the pasta up a little bit, almost like risotto. So you, you know, get some of that starch to break down. You need to be a little bit more aggressive,” he says, referring to how much you’re agitating the pasta when it’s in the sauce. “The Saucier is perfect for this because of its rounded walls,” he says, adding, “Nothing spills.”
In Chef Jo Chan’s recipe for Spaghetti with Red Sauce, she uses our 5 QT Saucier to build a classic marinara. After cooking the pasta just shy of al dente in our Stock Pot with Pasta Insert, Chef Chan adds the pasta water and uses it to emulsify the sauce. The pasta has plenty of room to finish cooking in our largest Saucier and results in a silky, rich sauce that clings perfectly to the noodles.
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