Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Recommended Posts

In the Q&A -- Understanding Stovetop Cookware topic @slkinsey suggested a well-equipped battery would include a pasta insert.

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/25718-qa-understanding-stovetop-cookware/?do=findComment&comment=350053

 

My method of draining pasta has been to carry the boiling pot over to the sink, and with one hand holding a mesh strainer, pour the contents into same.  I am getting too old for this.  I've tried a skimmer and I've tried tongs, but for long pasta like spaghetti I've had no success.

 

So I thought to try a pasta insert.  Some while ago amazon had a Paderno 11 inch insert for about $70.  So I bought it.  (They now are asking $179.91).  Nice piece of cookware, NSF, made in Italy.  So far I haven't used it.

 

More recently I bought a small Fissler 20 cm stockpot that came with its own pasta insert.  They call it a multi-pot.  The pot is not available without the insert.  Nonetheless a lovely insert also.  So now, if you are counting, I have two pasta inserts.

 

A week or so ago I tried out the Fissler insert with some pasta.  Or maybe it was pork belly.  Anyhow the water boiled all over the stove.  Last night I made chicken Tetazzini and needed a quantity of pasta.  Having learned my lesson, this time I put the Fissler insert into a bigger pot with plenty of room around the edge.  The water boiled all over the stove.  I ended up carrying the boiling pot over to the sink and pouring through the same mesh strainer.

 

There must be some secret here.  How does one use a pasta insert?  I'm thinking the Paderno might work better since it is much larger than the Fissler -- however on the other hand it might just result in a much greater quantity of pasta water on my floor.

 

Thoughts or advice?  There must be some pasta insert people here.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

There used to be a pot called "The Everything Pot" that came with two inserts, one large insert about the depth of the pot and a second insert that was more shallow for steaming. 

I tend to use inserts more for steaming veggies than for cooking pasta.They don't seem to lend themselves well for draining pasta while the pot is on the stove. The minute you start lifting up the insert to drain the pasta, you've got water draining out of the insert holes all over the stove top (which sounds like something you may have experienced).

Have you thought about getting a colander to put in the sink and then pour the contents of your pot into the colander? America's Test Kitchen recommends this colander for such a use. 

 

edited to add here's a video (click) from America's Test Kitchen on their review of colanders and why they chose the RSVP colander.

 


Edited by Toliver added video link (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@JoNorvelleWalker, I have also experienced water boiling out in between the stockpot and pasta insert.  It can be limited somewhat by taking the lid off once the water is boiling, adjusting the heat to maintain a low boil and using a minimum amount of water in the pot. 

I generally only use it when I have some quantity of things to blanch for a short period of time as it's easy to lower and remove them quickly. 

For pasta, I use a regular pot and follow the method @Toliver described, using the same colander he linked to.  I put the serving bowl under the colander to catch some pasta water if needed and to warm the serving bowl.  I'm not usually cooking tons of pasta so I can use a smaller pan and don't need a stockpot.  For  spaghetti, I sometimes use a skillet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had a 12 qt stockpot with a pasta insert since around 1990, and have used the insert maybe 3 times. I just don't find it useful. It seems to add to the time the water takes to boil, and it's harder to clean than a regular colander. Also, I've long rejected the traditional advice that you need gallons of water per pound of pasta. So I mostly use a 5 qt rondeau and a regular colander. 

 

I can see the insert being great if you wanted to reuse the same boiling water for multiple batches of pasta, as restaurants often do.

 

The insert on my pot also stops a couple of inches short of the pot's bottom, so it would make a great steamer (if you needed to steam something big, like a bunch of lobsters). I haven't used it for this yet.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I boil pasta in a small volume of salted water.  Its faster and safer...no lugging a big pot of scalding water to t he sink.

 

It cooks as fast and as well as the slow-to-boil and dangerous big pot and makes a more concentrated starch soln for thickening sauces.

 

I either pour it into a strainer or fish it out with tongs.

 

 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We were given a pot with an insert for our wedding (nearly 20 years ago, eek!) and we use it and love it. We've learned that for boiling stuff in the insert, you can't put in as much water as you think you can. For our pot, that means add water only to the third set of holes from the top, or you'll wind up with water everywhere. I appreciate that I don't need to lift a large pot filled with just-off-the-boil water to the sink, even if it just means turning around. And I love that the pasta water is easily available for finishing sauces without having to remember to do anything.

 

The insert has also been useful for steaming large quantities of vegetables.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I currently use one of these strainers. But, sometimes the handle is awkward, I am considering one of these. I tried using various inserts a while back at a catering company I worked at, the results were not great.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, gfweb said:

 

I either pour it into a strainer or fish it out with tongs.

 

 

 

For short pasta shapes a skimmer works well.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, paulraphael said:

 

For short pasta shapes a skimmer works well.

 

Indeed, for short pasta shapes the skimmer is my tool of choice.  Short pasta shapes are not my problem.

 

I have of course read Kenji but having done the experiment and tried abundant water and reduced water, I am firmly persuaded a large volume of water is better both for my pasta and for most vegetables.  Other people's mileage may vary.

 

@Lisa Shock I did not know those tools existed.  But I'm not sure they would be an improvement over my current strainer method.  One still has to pour the pot.

 

I do have a colander (albeit not a great one) but I worry about the sanitation of my sink.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/7/2018 at 4:12 PM, JoNorvelleWalker said:

A week or so ago I tried out the Fissler insert with some pasta.  Or maybe it was pork belly.  Anyhow the water boiled all over the stove.  Last night I made chicken Tetazzini and needed a quantity of pasta.  Having learned my lesson, this time I put the Fissler insert into a bigger pot with plenty of room around the edge.  The water boiled all over the stove.  I ended up carrying the boiling pot over to the sink and pouring through the same mesh strainer.

 

By weight how much pasta are you trying to boil?  My guess would be too much water for the pot's size based upon your description. I use 

inserts or a pan and colander depending on how much pasta I am cooking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

@Lisa Shock I did not know those tools existed.  But I'm not sure they would be an improvement over my current strainer method.  One still has to pour the pot.

I do have a colander (albeit not a great one) but I worry about the sanitation of my sink.

 

 

For me, the big positive about them is how little space they take up. I just hang them on my tool rack, whereas my old copper colander takes up space with the pots and pans as if it were a pot. Also, the colander on a handle (or two) has a big advantage when it comes time to clean up. There's much less surface area, and they fit easily into the dishwasher. I always felt bad putting the old colanders I had in the dishwasher, they took up so much space for something so full of holes. (I tend to wash pots as I cook and rarely ever put them in the dishwasher anyway.) Shhhh, but, you can also use the colanders on a handle when your sink is already full of dirty dishes...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I have of course read Kenji but having done the experiment and tried abundant water and reduced water, I am firmly persuaded a large volume of water is better both for my pasta and for most vegetables.  Other people's mileage may vary.

 

 

I wonder if water quality (hardness, alkalinity, something else) might account for differing results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, paulraphael said:

 

I wonder if water quality (hardness, alkalinity, something else) might account for differing results.

I don't know about pasta, but it certainly affects beans! When we were on sabbatical in Belgium, we tried to cook lentils for dinner one night. After we got very hungry waiting for the lentils to get done, we did a little research (always interesting, when the resources you need are published in a language you don't really speak beyond the pleasantries of hello, goodbye, please, thank you, where is the toilet?) and discovered that our city had super-hard water. Shortly thereafter, we went to the supermarket and read the label of every brand of bottled water, to find one that was softer, and hauled a couple of liters of it back to our flat.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Porthos said:

 

By weight how much pasta are you trying to boil?  My guess would be too much water for the pot's size based upon your description. I use 

inserts or a pan and colander depending on how much pasta I am cooking.

 

Typically I cook 3 or 4 ounces of pasta at a time.  For the chicken Tetrazzini that prompted this thread I was boiling half a pound.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always use the insert

 

makes removal easy with, usually, the right amount of pasta water attached... and it maintains the pasta water in the pot for either adding more to the sauce or cooking additional pasta if required.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, weedy said:

I always use the insert

 

makes removal easy with, usually, the right amount of pasta water attached... and it maintains the pasta water in the pot for either adding more to the sauce or cooking additional pasta if required.

 

 

 

How do you prevent water boiling all over the stove?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, weedy said:

don't over fill it??

 

Half full and my Fissler with insert boiled over.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the insert sitting directly on the bottom of the cooking pot?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, DesertTinker said:

Is the insert sitting directly on the bottom of the cooking pot?

This hits on something that it took me a while to realize. When my pot with insert is filled to the prudent limit, it looks as though the insert is barely half filled, which leads you to think that there can't possibly be enough water to cook pasta in the pot. But the insert's bottom is NOT on the bottom of the cooking pot—there's a gap of a few inches between pot and insert, and all that is also filled with water! (The top of the insert is also a few inches above the top of the pot.) So, there's more water in the pot than you think, and you can't put in as much water as you think or it will overflow.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I gave up on the pasta pot w/insert years ago, too much washing up and too much mess.

Now I use a 4-qt. All-Clad sauce pan filled hallway with salted water; (I usually only cook enough pasta for two) so that may not be enough for your needs.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I'm glad I never got a pasta insert. I've been using a pasta pot with a strainer in the lid and with locking handles. It was a Farberware deal some years ago, and has never failed me. The lid has two hole sizes. In this photo, I'm locking the left handle as a demonstration.

 

20180517_105528.jpg

 

Amazon isn't showing the same Farberware product any more, but there are plenty of other options out there, in multiple sizes. Here's one by Bialetti.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also a vey nice 8-qt. Tramontina pot on Amazon.  

(Can't post a link right now.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DesertTinker said:

Is the insert sitting directly on the bottom of the cooking pot?

 

I just looked at both my pots with inserts.  I each case the bottom of the insert is about an inch above the bottom of the pot.  The problem I think is that the system is working like a percolator.  Bubbles in the confined space around the sides are pushing water up and over the top.

 

So far I've not tried the larger pot for pasta but I can't help but doubt it work any differently than the Fissler.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my inserts hang off the lip so don't touch the bottoms.

 

I fill to about 3/4 or more full, but not ALL the way to the top.

 

they don't boil over.

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×