How to serve pasta through out the day?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by roooob, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. roooob

    roooob

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    I'm helping out at an event with an Italian theme. The event is running though out the day and I am running a pasta stall. (It's a walk up stall so there is no set opening and closing time)

    I will have a bain marie, fridge and a pasta cooker (A tub of hot water with little baskets you put the pasta in to cook it).

    I will be serving in three portion sizes.

    What I plan to do is make the pasta sauce (three different types) in the morning and put it in the fridge. When it gets close to lunch time I shall turn on the bain marie and heat the pasta sauce in it (I presume this is OK), and I'll stir it occasionally.

    What I'm stuck with is doing the pasta. I may have lots of customers so I need to serve quick. Can pasta be kept in a bain marie?

    Ideally I would like to fill the cup with pasta (Depending on which size they have) and pour some sauce over it and give it to them, nice and quick.

    I'm not sure how to do that with the pasta- I'll be using Penne pasta- should I cook the pasta in the pasta cooker and put it in a bain marie on it's own, or should I put it in a bain marie mixed with sauce?

    One very last question- If I have some sauce left in the bain marie after the lunch period, can I stick it back in the fridge and reheat it or do I need to throw it and make another lot for the dinner period?

    I'm not an expert on this, I've just been drafted in to give a helping hand so your advice is much appreciated!

    (I've not got a lot of space either, but If there is any other equipment I should need I think I could get it.)

    Thanks!!!
     
  2. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    IMO, a bain marie cannot be used to HEAT something, only to HOLD, you will need to HEAT your sauces in some other manner.

    Reheating previously cooked sauces must attain a temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds, then they can be held at, depending on local regulations, 135°-140°, which is the temperature of most bain maries.
     
     
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  3. roooob

    roooob

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    Thanks. What would you recommend to use to heat it to 165 degrees?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    A hotplate, butane burner or something similar.
     
  5. roooob

    roooob

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    So if I had one of these there too, I can just cook the sauce in a saucepan on the hot plate, then stick it in the bain marie. Do you know how long a bain marie would keep it hot for?
     
  6. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Pete has guided you the right way . How long will it keep hot assuming it is boiling wate r(that's 212) Temp) if you constantly stir  as the bain marie empties, add more hot water dipped  pasta and hot sauce it should stay hot all night.  If you refrig a sauce, bring it to a boil if possible before re use. . (On this type of gig  gig stay away from any cream sauces if you can)  Use sterno under bain marie or chaffers .
     
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  7. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    2 sternos under a hotel pan will actually heat stuffs to simmering temperatures, just dont

    try to do that beneath a chaffer waterpan, it'll warp to high heaven. Then once you see the 

    simmer, you can dump the lot into the holding pot.

    With the amount of time you're considering holding for, I would keep the pasta and sauce

    separate and, as you mentioned....pasta in cup, then sauce on top. But you CAN'T let the

    pasta dry out, (and it will even in a bain marie or similar) you have to keep some water

    in there on the bottom, keep it covered, and stir now and then.

    You'll be at holding temps, 135 to 165 say, so it wont continue cooking.

    I've had no prob using this method over a hundred times in Maries and chaffer ssetups.

    The link you posted is an electric plate, I prefer a butane burner, theyre cheap,

    10 to $20.00 US, and totally self contained. I use them in catering extensively.

     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
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  8. roooob

    roooob

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    Thanks, that's very helpful.

    I'd just like to run through what i'll do it check I understand.

    Prepare the sauce in the morning just before opening (follow the recipe and cook the sauce using a butane burner)

    Put it in the bain marie to keep warm (should I leave it open or put a lid on it?)

    Cook a few portions of pasta and once cooked put it in a bain marie with a little bit of water (Just enough to cover the bottom or enough to cover the pasta?) and keep the lid on it.

    Stir the sauce and pasta regularly.

    During the quiet periods I can then prepare more sauce and allow it to cool in the fridge, then heat it up when I run low so I don't have to spend time preparing more from scratch.

    Then when I serve, I just spoon some pasta in the cup and pour over some sauce and that's that!

    Chef Edb- you said I should stay away from cream sauces. I was hoping to serve three different sauces - A simple tomato one, a macaroni cheese one and possibly a carbonara sauce- does this mean I should only do the tomato one (maybe three different variations?)[font=Droid Sans, Arial, sans-serif]  [/font]
     
  9. recky

    recky

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    Why don't you prepare the pasta the way Italian chefs do it: cook until nearly al dente, drain and chuck in cold water to stop them cooking, then coat in a little olive oil so that they don't stick. When serving, just dip them in boiling well-salted water for a minute.
     
     
  10. roooob

    roooob

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    I need a quick turn around for the pasta as it's not a restaurant or cafe- more of a take away food. One minute might be too long to wait for the pasta if I have a customer in front of me waiting for it, I could end up with a long queue? 
     
  11. recky

    recky

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    I have sold spaghetti and "hedgerow" pesto from a stall before, and that's exactly what I did. You're basically only heating the pasta up in the boiling water. Holding cooked pasta in a bain-marie will render it overcooked and soggy.
     
  12. roooob

    roooob

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    Ok, so if the water is already boiling would it take less time or would it still be a minute?
     
  13. recky

    recky

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    Depends on how far you take the pasta during the first blanching. The bare minimum, I guess, would be around 30 seconds to heat them through in boiling water. But if you have several baskets in which to cook your pasta, only the first in the queue will have to wait a minute or so.

    The benefit of blanching pasta until nearly al dente and finishing them off in one or two minutes is that you get a little more tolerance while being busy looking for your parmesan grater or chatting with your customers :)
     
  14. roooob

    roooob

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    Fair enough, I guess I'll just have to try it with a small portion of pasta to see which method works best.

    How do you know when it's cooked to nearly al dente? 
     
  15. recky

    recky

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    Using tongs, remove one pasta item from pan, place in your mouth, chew... ;-)
     
  16. roooob

    roooob

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif  Does it vary each time or is it roughly after, say 10 minutes?

    I'm still edging towards the 'stick it in a bain marie with a bit of water' because it means I can immediately serve it. I guess I should just do some trial and error to see which is best for my situation. 
     
  17. recky

    recky

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    You'll find that you will achieve what I call "canteen quality" - pasta does not take well to being kept in water, because it will absorb it and go soggy.

    It's important to time the blanching, so that each batch has the same degree of al-dente-ness.
     
  18. recky

    recky

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    I'm sure customers won't actually mind watching "their" pasta cooked while they wait. At least that's what I found when I did my pasta stall.
     
  19. roooob

    roooob

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    I suppose if they are watching it being cooked they know that it's being cooked properly, not simply being heated in a microwave or something :p

    So i'll do a test run near the time and see how long it takes to cook until almost ready. I'll note that time down. Then when it's cooked I put it straight in cold water (kept in a fridge?) and will it be okay to leave it in that for a good few hours? 

    Then after a while i'll take it out and plunge it into well salted (How much it that? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/blushing.gif) water for about 30 seconds and see if it's ready. Then when it comes to the day I should have some pretty accurate timings to use :) 
     
  20. thatchairlady

    thatchairlady

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    Slightly OT, but on reheating al dente pasta.  I'm notorious for cooking too much... always feel a need to toss in a little more, no matter what. When I do end up with too much, will put in zip bag or container and into fridge if gonna use it the next day or so.  For longer storage, into freezer... vac sealing is ideal for me.  Even from frozen, only needs to go into salted/simmering water until it separates... no significant addition cooking time... MAYBE a minute!?!