Tuesday, July 03, 2007

the pasta pot

alessi introduced into its collection earlier this year, a pasta pot designed by alain ducasse and patrick jouin. in typical alessi style, it’s sleek and sexy, and brings out all sorts of covetous, materialistic and illogical thoughts, including the one that marriage is a highly attractive proposition simply for (amongst love and all that blah), being able to put a (non-)essential kitchen accessory like this on your wedding list, together with the bright red le creuset casserole pot, kitchen aid mixer and dualit toaster.

i digress. to quote ducasse on his pasta pot:

"The integrity of an ancient cooking method adapted to the necessities of modern life: that's what the Pasta Pot gives you. With this type of cooking, called 'by concentration', the starch keeps the pasta together and the undiluted flavours retain their intensity. The result is a wholesome, natural, exceptionally tasty dish that's quick and easy to prepare. In the old days, when olive pickers would go out to work in the olive groves, they had very little water to cook with. To solve the problem, they cooked their pasta like a risotto: after having blended it with the herbs and mushrooms and other vegetables they'd found while walking, they covered it all with the little water they had until it was absorbed. This is the traditional method, which I've revived through my restaurant Le Louis XV in Monaco, whose secrets Alessi is about to reveal!”

my trusty saucepan (at a tenth of the cost of the alessi pasta pot) proved to be more than adequate as i discovered the ancient joys of cooking pasta risotto style. I sautéed a finely minced shallot, cubed carrots and a finely chopped scallion in a splash of olive oil (which I’m sure the olive pickers had in ample supply). tipping in the uncooked pasta shapes and giving it a quick swish around in the pot. liquid in the form of an organic chicken stock cube dissolved in boiling water was added by the ladle and left to fully absorb before the next ladle was added. exactly like how you would cook risotto, except that this takes much less bicep-busting stirring and without the worry of it all going gummy. I had meanwhile marinated a cubed chicken fillet in salt, pepper, minced ginger, minced scallion and a splash of sesame oil which I added halfway through the cooking process together with an extra ladle of stock to gently poach the chicken cubes.

the best thing about cooking pasta this way is that it tastes divine. the pasta absorbs all the flavour of the cooking liquid and the retained starch gives the whole dish a lovely creaminess. the next best thing is that you don’t have to wash the pasta drainer.


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