Cooking Pasta and Rice

Using a large saucepan with 2 handles makes cooking with large volumes of water easier to handle. The trick with boiling pasta and rice is using a lot of water. When steaming rice you need to be specific with the volumes so here are a few tips:

All measures serve 4 – 6

 1) 500g Fresh Pasta:

Bring 8 pints of water to the boil; add 1 tbsp salt and the pasta. Stir, cover and bring back to boil. Reduce the heat to medium high. Fresh pasta only requires 2 minutes cooking, longer depending on thickness. Drain, and immediately add butter or butter and olive oil. Do not let the pasta dry out. Season.

2) 500g Dried Pasta:

Bring 8 pints of water to the boil; add 2 tbsp salt and the pasta. Stir, cover and bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium high. Cook thin pasta i.e. spaghetti for 2 minutes and thicker shells for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Leave to steep in the hot water for the remaining time as indicated on the packet or until al dente. Drain, and immediately add butter or butter and olive oil. Do not let the pasta dry out. Season.  This method prevents the pasta from being overcooked.

3) 400g Boiled Basmati Rice:

Rinse the rice clear of all starch using a sieve. Bring 8 pints of water to the boil; add 2 tsp salt. Sprinkle in the rice and stir thoroughly. Return to a rapid boil, uncovered for 4 – 5 minutes. Test a few grains – there should still be a slight bite (resistance) in the centre.

a) Preheat the oven to 140°C /275°F / Gas 1.Drain completely and transfer into a warm serving dish. Dot with a few knobs of butter, cover with tin foil and leave to stand in a low oven for at least 15 minutes. Remove the foil and fluff up with a fork to serve. I use this method if I’ve a number of other dishes on the go at the same time, the rice will sit happily in the oven while you get everything else ready.

b) Or continue to simmer for a further 2 – 3 minutes, test by biting, drain and serve.

4) 450g Steamed Basmati Rice:

Rinse the rice clear of all starch using a sieve. Tip into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add 450ml – 510ml water and ½ – 1 tsp salt. Stir. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature available. Cover with a tight fitting lid (use foil too if required) to ensure steam is trapped. Steam for 15 – 20 minutes. Take off the heat and rest for 5 minutes. The rice will remain warm for up to 30 minutes if left covered. Fluff up and serve.

5) Japanese Brown Rice

Add 1 part dry rice to 1 1/4 parts water and pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and as soon as it boils, cover with a tight fitting lid. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for a further 8 minutes.

6) Jasmine Rice

Add 1 part dry rice to 1 1/2 parts water and pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and as soon as it boils, cover with a tight fitting lid. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for a further 8 minutes.

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