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Why would I want a dedicated pasta pot/insert?

c
comestible Dec 30, 2010 11:07 AM

Received an 8-qt. stainless Williams-Sonoma pasta pot with insert for Christmas. It's lovely but I am considering exchanging it for something else.

I make pasta frequently but am confused why this should be better than any of my stockpots (have 2 or 3) plus my beautiful wide 1940-ish enameled colander.

The W-S pot can't even be used as a steamer; the insert goes almost all the way to the bottom.

If you can inform me why this pot is a better idea than what I have, I'm all ears -- maybe I'll keep it.

Thanks.

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  1. z
    ziggylu Dec 30, 2010 12:09 PM

    I like the inserts because I don't like carrying the heavy pot of water to the sink to dump. I also like to use the inserts when I make stock, easy to lift the bones and vegs out of the stock. I don't like that 8qt one from W-S though. I'm actually without a pot like this at the moment but keep looking at the 12qt from All-clad with both the steamer and the pasta inserts. (don't like the W-S version of that AllClad pot either though as the insert is mesh.)

    I gave my mom my old Calphalon pot with insert. Someday I'll get around to replacing it....when I have nothing else to buy. So no, it's not a necessity but I think it's a nice item to have.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ziggylu
      c
      cabojenn Dec 31, 2010 06:22 AM

      I just got one for Christmas (All-Clas d5) and I live it for the reasons you mentioned. I have weak wrists (so I get heavy cookware LOL) and have always found it awkward to drain pasta. I do wish it had legs though because when I make stock, I use a masher to get all the liquid from the veggies and I don't have a mill ... yet.

      To answer the OP's question, if you make for example, ravioli, the insert is gentler on the pasta and there is less breakage when draining.

    2. d
      dessert_diva Dec 30, 2010 01:06 PM

      Silly question perhaps, but why are pasta inserts (when sold separately) so expensive? I was looking at the Henckels Classic Clad pasta insert for an 8-qt pot, and it's 60 bucks... IMHO a bit pricey for something that isn't even going to touch the stovetop. The specs do say that it sits 2" above the bottom of the pot (when used with their 8 qt stockpot, that is) so at least it could be used as a steamer (if I didn't already own a dedicated electric one...).

      http://www.cutleryandmore.com/henckel...

      I did a quick search for "stainless pasta insert" and the least expensive result was $50 (ironically, it's by Scanpan, which is normally pricey BUT that one was for their 6 1/2 qt pot, not an 8 qt one).

      Why the $$$$ for something that's in essence a glorified strainer?

      1 Reply
      1. re: dessert_diva
        cannibal Dec 30, 2010 01:18 PM

        i got my pasta insert from a restaurant supply store for 12 dollars. I wouldn't pay much more than that for one as i don't make pasta in that quantity often, but when i do it's nice to have.

      2. mattstolz Dec 30, 2010 02:36 PM

        i have been looking into getting one, i can think of all kinds of things to use to for besides pasta, such as the already mentioned stocks and sauces, blanching vegetables, etc. i also think its a great idea because i love to use pasta water as a finisher for my sauces, but if you have to drain the pasta to get it outta the pot, then its much more of a hassle to use than if you can just lift the pasta outta the pot and leave the water there!

        1. kaleokahu Dec 30, 2010 02:47 PM

          comestible: Besides stockmaking, these are great for both blanching (where you can lift everything straight from boiling to icebath), and deep frying (no more fishing for that last calamari ring in the bubbling oil). For me, it's a consistency thing.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kaleokahu
            r
            rasputina Apr 14, 2011 09:38 AM

            I never even thought of using it for frying what a great idea.

          2. SanityRemoved Dec 30, 2010 03:59 PM

            I don't have that particular model or brand but one thing I like is the ability to drain the pasta and then tilt the insert at a 45 degree angle and leave it on top of the pot. If I need to refresh the pasta all I do is put the insert back into the water, wait a little and drain again.

            1. c
              comestible Dec 31, 2010 06:39 AM

              Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. I'm most intrigued by the idea of using it for blanching. I hadn't thought of that, and I do a fair amount of it. My current technique is to fish out the blanched veggies with a big slotted spoon, but that gets old and feels like an arcade game!

              I also think I may hunt down an insert at a restaurant supply store, to use with one of my other stockpots. Or...maybe it's a better idea to keep the W-S pot and give away one of my other large pots. I just don't need so many pots taking up kitchen space.

              Thanks, everyone!

              4 Replies
              1. re: comestible
                b
                Burghfeeder Dec 31, 2010 06:56 AM

                I have an All Clad 12 quart with the insert, but I rarely actually use it for pasta. Most of the time I use it to make chicken or turkey stock because it's easy to remove the bones. Considering what these things cost, it really dosent do anything that you can't do with a large collinder.

                http://burghfeeding.blogspot.com/

                1. re: Burghfeeder
                  d
                  dessert_diva Dec 31, 2010 09:53 AM

                  Ooooh, the stock-elements idea is an even better alternative use than blanching (which I hadn't thought of either, embarassingly.... I've been a member of the Slotted Spoon Club too long, LOL)!

                  A trip to my local restaurant supply house is looming in my future. The only question is what size pot to get it for. Hm.

                  1. re: dessert_diva
                    a
                    Amp1 Dec 31, 2010 05:19 PM

                    Polder makes a mesh colander with a handle which can double as an insert for pasta, steaming, etc.
                    http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Colande...

                2. re: comestible
                  breadchick Jan 1, 2011 09:25 AM

                  Also, if you already have the insert you can use it for lobsters. It's not worth it to buy the insert just for that reason, but it sure is handy if you already have one. In the past, I tried to use tongs, and the devils kept slipping free and splashing back into the water. Now I just lift out the insert, and dump them onto a half-sheet pan.

                3. s
                  smartie Dec 31, 2010 10:11 AM

                  I've had one for 25 years and love it, I find it hard to tilt pasta into a colander to drain and end up losing pasta. It's easy to drain the water from pasta tubes and as someone else says you can refresh the pasta but dipping it back into the hot water if need be. It is a big cumbersome pot but it's so much easier to use.

                  1. l
                    Leolady Jan 1, 2011 07:55 AM

                    I have the 20 qt and 11qt commercial stainless steel Vollrath double boilers and have a couple of extra boiler inserts. I took the extra ones to a metal fabricator and for a couple of bucks each had holes drilled into the bottom and sides in a regular pattern.

                    The 11 qt one is perfect for pasta and small blanching tasks. But when my garden is producing tons of vegetables, I use the 20 qt one to make it easy to process lots at a time and to make lots of chicken, turkey, or beef stock at a single time.

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