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Spectacular Spaghetti Every Time

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Cooking spaghetti or other long noodles is a fundamental skill for home cooking, but there's a lot of conflicting information out there on how to do it properly. I'm going to tell you how to make your noodles come out perfectly al dente every time, without sticking together or clumping in the pot. Don't worry, it's much easier than you think, and it's all about the timing. Get your timer ready, and let's get cooking!

Not all noodles are created equal. Some strands are thinner or thicker than others, so the timing I describe is an estimate. Measure about 2 ounces of pasta per person: an easy way to do this is to stand it on end on a quarter. Remember that an overcrowded pot will not cook the pasta properly, so your best bet is to use a large pot. Fill the pot with water, enough to cover the pasta with about an inch of water above. Don't put the pasta in yet!

First, bring the water to a robust and rolling boil over high heat. Add salt and a small amount of oil: this will help keep the pasta from clumping as it cooks. Turn down the heat and put the pasta in the pot. Wait for it to become pliable enough to be completely submerged, then return the water to a boil. Let the pasta cook for about 4 minutes. Remember, thicker strands might need more time! If you're not sure if it's ready yet, take a stand out of the pot and bite it. al dente pasta isn't crunchy like uncooked noodles, but the very center will be harder than the outside. This is usually the ideal result!

Once your pasta is al dente, quickly take it out of the pot and into a colander. Drain the pasta water, and toss the noodles with a bit more oil, just enough to slightly coat the pasta: you don't want any sauce you add leater to slide off! This will prevent the pasta from sticking as it's cooling.

Enjoy, and let me know which recipes and kitchen tips you want to know in the comments below!

Photo: Pixabay