bulk pasta cooking

we are cooking roughly 1-2 boxes of ziti noodles a day, I am wondering if there is a way or tool that is used to cook large batches of pasta with consistency. Our staff seems to have issues with consistently cooking the noodles to an al-dente perfection.

Thanks for any help.

What is your exact process now? Are you par cooking and then portioning? I think that’s how most do it. You can then keep a pot with a pasta insert hot and ready to go all the time. Take the portion out and put it in the pasta insert for a minute or two to finish it up.

As for the key to par cooking consistently, you need to stir and use a timer. I don’t know if this helps…

Patrick Cuezze
Next Door Pizza
www.nextdoorpizza.com

Most people overcook pasta, the key is to use a timer and to buy quality pasta like Barilla. You really do get what you pay for in most respects. read the package for the instructions on how long to cook the pasta for and follow the directions, set a timer. I can’t tell you how easy it is to forget a pot of pasta on the stove cooking. So many other things come up. with a timer you will remember “hey, it’s my pasta”

A loud timer!

If you follow package instructions for pre-preparation and portioning, you will end up with consistently overcooked pasta. I hate to so abrupt, but it turns out to be true too often. The instructions on the package are really for cook and serve immediately.

Pre-cooking is more art than science. If anything, set a timer 60 to 90 seconds short of package directions. Touching, biting and looking at the noodle is best technique; long thin shapes should just barely drop over edeges of tongs when lifted outof water. Thick shapes like penne or rigatoni or cavatappi should go to 60 seconds short of shortest cooking time on package. Again, touch and taste is best.

Drain and IMMEDIATELY shock in cold/ice water to stop cooking. Portion and chill. To serve, drop in boiling water for 30 to 45 seconds, and you should be spot on target. That refresh will even activate some new starches to adhere your sauce. Notice that I did not say anything about oil to prevent sticking anywhere. If your pasta gets to sticking when portioning, use a light mist of water to losen the starch and keep going.

I even freeze my noodles for up to two weeks with little to no degrade in quality. It is again more art than science and takes learning and caring a lot about the finished product.

TommyTwoTone,
I’d love to be able to suggest a tool you can buy (well, a good kitchen timer is useful) but I’m going to have to agree with NicksPizza. You really need to have your cooks know when to take out the ziti to get the right doneness, there isn’t really a secret way to this, it’s largely experience. The restaurants i have worked at that cook lots of pasta have figured out approximately what timing they need to parcook their noodles and use timers but they still test for doneness on every batch.

For me a timer is the way to go but if you want to spend some money you can get a pasta cooker. Same thing as a fryer only with water instead of oil. You can set the timer for the baskets to automatically lift the pasta out of the water.

The type of equipment PizzaPirate is referring to is going to be pretty expensive and that’s why I didnt recommend it for someone who’s primary business isn’t pasta. A Pitco unit like this with auto lift and a single tank would be about $5300 with out freight.

or they are on Ebay all the time for cheap! timer still makes more sense however for pizza operations . . .

What makes Barilla a better quality pasta? After I read your post I looked into what is available locally and I see it is about 25% more than Costa.

I have used barilla at home for years and in several shops, never once have I had a batch of pasta that stuck or clumped together.

What makes the end product better? We have always stirred the pasta so that it never sticks.

Not trying to drill you but rather appreciate the difference and why.