Italian Cooking Basics

Kosher Salt
Kosher salt is NOT the same as regular salt. Sure, it tastes the same but it is about half the weight of regular salt. So, if you use the same amount of table salt instead of kosher salt, your dish will be MUCH saltier than it should be. So, if you don't have kosher salt, use half of what is suggested.

Cook Tomatoes for at Least 5 Minutes
Tomatoes are naturally acidic. Anytime you are cooking tomatoes they need to cook for at least 5 minutes in order to lose that acidity and become sweet again. So, don't season your dish "to taste" until after the tomatoes have cooked for at least 5 minutes or you'll be seasoning it wrong. This is why some people feel the need to add sugar to their tomato sauces. They taste the acid of the tomato too early on and try to combat it with sugar. YUCK! Tomato based sauces should not have sugar in them.

Timing for Extra Virgin Olive Oil
ALWAYS heat the pan up before adding Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Put the pan on medium heat. Check the heat of the pan by placing the pal of your hand overt the bottom of the pan without touching it. You'll feel the heat. It doesn't have to be scorching hot, jut warm. THEN add the olive oil.

Once the extra virgin olive oil is in the pan, do NOT add any ingredients until you the oil become aromatic. Don't add anything until you can smell the extra virgin olive oil.

Boil the Water, THEN Salt it
Don't salt your pasta water and then bring it to a boil. Wait for the water to boil and then add some salt. Rock salt is best. The salt is there to flavor the pasta, NOT to help it boil faster.

Leave the Olive Oil out of the Pasta Water
There is no need to add olive oil to your pasta water. It doesn't do anything and is a waste of good olive oil.

It doesn't keep the pasta from sticking together. Plenty of water and early stirring prevents that.

While it can help prevent your water from foaming up and boiling over, your water shouldn't foam up and boil over if you use a large enough pot and adjust the heat. It doesn't need to boil violently, it just needs to boil.

This is the act of finishing off the pasta by adding it to the sauce in the saucepan. Adding the pasta to the sauce and continuing to cook it does a few things: 1. The starch in the pasta helps to thicken the sauce and make it more creamy. 2. It lets the pasta absorb some of the sauce's flavors into it as it finishes cooking. 3. It lets them mix together and make sure they are the same temperature.

Whenever you add wine to a dish you'll typically want the alcohol to cook out. This process takes 4 minutes. So, anytime you see wine or alcohol in a recipe, simmer it for 4 minutes and you'll be good.

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