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Jun 11, 2010 03:07 PM

Really basic cooking questions you've had for ages

Here a couple of basic ones:

1) How do you go about pulling a strand of pasta out of a boiling pot to taste it for doneness? I have tried tongs, a fork, and a spoon, but inevitably I have to use my fingers to separate one strand from the others, scalding my finger with boiling water.

2) What do you do with the oil after you deep fry? I know many of you store it for later frying, but what storage process do you use? Today, I poured the hot oil into a glass container. That turned out to be a mistake -- it shattered in two -- but I really needed to get the skillet off the stove so I could continue cooking. And I can't just pour it down the drain I don't suppose?

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  1. 1. Chopsticks. Never fail.

    2. Your mistake was not letting the oil cool. First, let it cool to room temp. Strain it, then just put it back in the original container and store at room temperature.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Used oil can be stored at room temperature if hasn't been used to cook protein. If you deep fry meat, refrigerate it after cooling and straining. You may also find it prudent to strain it again, after storing it for a time, before using it a second time. Save a small amount of your used oil in the freezer and use it to "season" fresh oil - helps starches brown better than dropping them into fresh oil.
      I believe the error most cooks make with spaghetti is trying to get a single strand to taste. Use a wire strainer, pick up a pile and pull one or two out with your fingers when it's drained.

      1. re: todao

        Yup, agree on all counts.

        By the way, todao, how often do you deep-fry (again) with used oil?

    2. 1. The classic big pasta fork has always worked well for me. If need be, briefly run the strand or piece of cut pasta under cold water before handling.

      1. 1) I also use a pasta fork.....but I've become a bit accustomed to handling hot foods thru repeated finger-dipping

        2) I also let the oil cool & keep in a plastic container on the counter...

        1. I use a pasta fork. If you don't have one, I highly recommend it.

          1. Hi avenitnus,

            I usually pick a few pasta strands up with a pasta fork and then use hand, so it is much like your method.

            I see. In the case you described, I pour the hot oil from one cookware to another. Let's say pour the hot oil from your saute pan to a sauce pan. Put the sauce pan on another stove or on a trivet. Meanwhile you can continue to cook in your saute pan while waiting for the hot oil to cool in the sauce pan. That is how I usually do it.