Throwback Tuesday Post (TBTP) from 2014: Recipe and instructional how-to tutorial for authentic Tuscan ribollita, a hearty winter soup thickened with bread. I got the recipe straight from an Italian chef, so you know it's good!
This cream sauce is actually built on the pasta. What that means is that you cook the pasta to al dente first then lower the heat and make the sauce in the pan with the cooked pasta. Therefore, a mini-tutorial:
How to Cook Pasta to Al Dente:
1. Bring five to six quarts (5 to 6 liters) water to a fast boil in a large stock pot or pasta cooker.
2. Add 2 tablespoons (40 g) salt.
3. Add the pasta slowly so the water continues to boil. If you are using dried pasta, some of it may not fit into the water immediately. Wait for the part in the water to soften for a few seconds before gently pressing the still-dried part into the water.
4. Stir with a wooden spoon to keep the pasta from sticking together during the first two minutes. Do not add oil for this.
5. Continue to boil the pasta, uncovered, for enough time to get the right texture. Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried. If you are cooking packaged pasta, start testing the pasta a few minutes before the time is up. If you are cooking fresh pasta, even if you’ve dried it after you made it, start testing about two minutes after the pasta goes into the pot.
6. Test the pasta. Take a noodle out of the pot, briefly blow on it so you don’t burn your mouth, then chew it. This is the trickiest part, because, first of all, you must know what al dente feels like on your teeth when you chew the pasta. Al dente pasta has a satisfying, slight resistance when you bite into it but will not be crunchy. Undercooked pasta has a floury taste and is hard and chalky. Overcooked pasta is mushy and limp and not pleasant to eat. Keep testing the pasta every 15 to 20 seconds or so until you get al dente.
7. Turn off the heat and drain the water from the pasta immediately. Remember that the pasta continues to cook as you taste it and it will take you a few more seconds to drain it. Therefore, try to catch the pasta just before it’s al dente to get it just perfect. Yes, this takes practice!