How to Cook Pasta the Right Way Every Time

Cooking pasta is truly as simple as it looks, according to Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. As long as you have fresh ingredients and follow an Italian recipe without altering it, Prince Emanuele (also known as The Prince of Venice) says “all pastas are good.” After all, the 48-year-old royal knows a thing or two about the beloved carb. Filiberto recently opened Prince of Venice, a buzzy fast-casual restaurant in Los Angeles that’s famed for its homemade pasta.

Below, check out Prince Emanuele’s favorite pasta recipe, then read on to learn more about his delicious pastas.

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How to Cook Pasta

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. There should be plenty of room for pasta to circulate. Sometimes fresh pasta is cooked in batches to avoid crowding the pot. Use a lid to bring to a boil more quickly.
  2. Salt the water. Pasta cooked in unsalted water will never taste right — it absorbs the salt as it cooks. Pasta cooking water should be just slightly less salty than the sea. (If you are using salty ingredients, such as salted anchovies or capers in the sauce, keep that in mind for balance.) Take off the lid and add a handful of coarse sea salt to the boiling water. This may look like a lot, but most of the salt washes away when you drain the pasta.
  3. After adding the salt, wait for the water to return to a boil, then add the pasta. As soon as you add the pasta, stir with a wooden spoon or long-handled fork. Do not break long pasta to fit in the pot. Simply wait a moment for the pasta immersed in the water to soften, then push the remainder of the pasta into the water. Stir frequently while the pasta is cooking.
  4. Cook pasta al dente. Pasta is consumed three to four times a week (even midday) in Italy, so Prince Emanuele is no stranger to how pasta should be cooked. He notes that where people usually go wrong when making pasta is by overcooking it. “It should always be al dente,” he advises. Adding too much cheese, salt, and heavy sauces, like Alfredo, are other mistakes he says most people make.
  5. Fresh pasta is usually ready when it floats to the surface of the cooking water. Dried semolina pasta has a cooking time on the package. Start testing 1 to 2 minutes before the cooking time provided. There is no cure for overcooked pasta. To test dried semolina pasta, fish out one piece with a skimmer or fork and take a bite. If the center is brittle and has a chalky white color, it’s not ready. When it’s al dente, there will be slight resistance “to the tooth,” but nothing hard, and the color will be mostly uniform throughout with just a slightly lighter color in the center. Like Riccoli d’Oro (you know her as Goldilocks), you’re looking for something just right – not overcooked and not undercooked.
  6. Drain the pasta. Either place a colander in the sink and pour the pasta and water into the colander or use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the pasta from the pot. Transfer the pasta to a skillet or serving bowl. Often you will reserve some of the cooking water. Always turn off the burner as you remove the pot — never leave pasta sitting in its cooking water off the heat.
  7. Serve immediately. Pasta waits for no one.

Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy was raised in exile until the age of 30. He spent his early life dreaming of Italy and felt that the best way to feel closer to the country was by cooking a staple Italian dish, pasta. He grew up watching his grandmother make pasta and believes that “cooking brings the family together.” He also trusts that if you’re trying to romance that special woman, cooking is more effective than Viagra!

The Prince recommends putting whatever you want in a pasta dish. “When near the sea, use sea urchins. When it’s winter, use truffles. I even like to use tuna sometimes and caviar other times.”

Carbonara Recipe

(Serves 2)

“I love Carbonara pasta. It’s very good and tasty because it’s made with guanciale and eggs. It’s a nice texture and I love the crunchiness of the bacon. It’s super good.”

Ingredients:

  • 11 oz spaghetti
  • 4 oz guanciale
  • 1 oz grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 oz grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  1. Chop the guanciale into little pieces and place in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, put in two egg yolks.
  3. Add cheese to the bowl with egg yolks.
  4. Add 1 oz of water to the bowl with egg yolks and cheese.
  5. Mix the water, cheese, and egg yolks with a fork.
  6. Add salt and pepper to the mixture.
  7. Place a pot of water on the stove to boil.
  8. In a pan, cook the chopped guanciale for 6-7 minutes until it’s crunchy. Do not add oil to the pan!
  9. Place the spaghetti in the water and cook. It will be ready to drain at the same time the guanciale is finished. “When the guanciale is a nice color, it is nicely cooked,” says Prince Emanuele.
  10. Drain the pasta.
  11. Place the pasta in the pan with the guanciale.
  12. Pour the egg mixture on top and mix for 1 minute.
  13. It’s ready to be served!

If testing out Prince Emanuele’s recipe leaves you craving more, you can taste his pastas, pizzas, and Italian desserts at his restaurant, Prince of Venice, in Los Angeles. The restaurant uses locally sourced organic vegetables, cage-free eggs, free-range meats from California farms, Italian flour, Italian olive oils, and Italian truffles. Do not expect anything less than royal standards.

Article previously published June 2020 by Sam Slaughter.

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