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Pasta Pentola Recs?

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A couple of years ago, I upgraded from a Calphalon pasta pentola to the 12-quart All Clad pasta pot. I thought the larger pot would work well for my hungry family. I hate the All Clad pasta pot because it takes at least one hour for the water to come to a boil! This pot is completely impractical to use.

If you have this All Clad pot, do you have the same trouble?

If you have a pasta pot you love, which one is it and why?

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  1. 12 quarts of water takes a while to boil in most home kitchens. ;-)

    1. I agree with Sid. It can be as much (or more) about your burners output and the quantity of water to be boiled rather than the pot it is in. Out pasta pot is a Cuisinart 12 qt, and we also have and use a Kenmore 16 qt stock pot. Burner output is 22,000 btus and it takes time.

      1. You're joking, right?
        +1 that your complaint is related to the volume of water you're trying to boil and BTU output of your range. It has nothing to do with the pot. If you need to boil that much water for pasta (which you really don't, ever, for household purposes at least), the only faster way to do it would be to divide it up into two smaller volumes/pots or start with hot tap water which isn't always advisable depending on the age and type of plumbing.
        Pots aren't magic. No pot is going to boil water better than any other pot. If they hold water, they're going to "work".
        There is all kinds of good information on the net that pretty clearly established that one does not need that much water for cooking pasta. Here is the one article I recall from Harold McGee, cooking science expert: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/din...

        6 Replies
        1. re: splatgirl

          Hi, splatgirl: "No pot is going to boil water better than any other pot. If they hold water, they're going to "work"."

          Not quite so fast... Unless you have a meaning for 'better' that excludes elapsed time and volume, you're incorrect. See, http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/732777

          Maybe I've been wonking this too long, but it is obvious that with two otherwise identical pots, one made of aluminum, the other of glass (Visions?) the former will boil 'better' in terms of speed. And if the pots are large and/or the hob is weak, the latter may not boil at all.

          The better point, IMO, is that convection, being what it is, tends to minimize differences between
          pots. But there *are* differences. See, e.g., http://www.dvorsons.com/eneron/turbo-... and the 'case study' and 'savings' sublinks.

          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          1. re: kaleokahu

            Yes, yes. I am aware. The OP is referring specifically to All Clad, not Visions (the younger generation probably doesn't even remember that stuff!) or cast iron or copper so for the purposes of this thread, I think we can safely overlook the minutiae and make the point that there is no pot that is going to magically boil 12 quarts of water in the blink of an eye no matter how expensive or shiny. Range BTU is a much, much bigger factor in this instance. Or, if one is actually looking for a common sense solution, volume of water.

            1. re: splatgirl

              Hi, splatgirl:

              It may not be minutiae to the OP if it's taking an hour to boil in a $$ 12Q A-C (sandwiched as it is between sheets of .41mm SS). I submit that if s/he swapped in a cheap 12Q aluminum stocker, it would substantially shorten the boil time.

              Part of the problem here may be the pentola itself. More steel to heat, and reheat between batches. Here's where a larger water volume (or a Buffalo iron) may be beneficial.

              If your point is that it takes considerable time to boil 12Q in anything on a home hob, point well taken. But minutes can be shaved, and larger volumes boiled, with intelligent pot choice and/or induction.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Yes, I agree. And I don't mean to dismiss your not insignificant research on the subject!
                It's not 100% clear what All Clad pot we're talking about here, either. The actual ~$400 "Pasta Pentola" with the fully sandwiched construction is a 7qt. pot. Then there is a 12 qt "stock pot" with same at similar price point. The ~$150 12qt. "Multi Cooker" only has a sandwiched disk bottom. The sides are single ply stainless, IIRC. By your metric, this distinction is relevant.

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  "More steel to heat" is not significant compared to the water. This is meanongless.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Hi, GH1618:

                    Disagree. It's been my experience that when uncooked food is put in a cold (i.e., not preheated) pentola, it takes significantly longer to regain the boil for a blanch, pasta, etc. Likewise, when you are doing batches, unless you preheat the pentola for each batch. This is especially true wherever folks use smaller volumes of water, but it still happens to me with a full 14Q stocker and a half-pound of pasta in a pentola. I define success in blanching and shocking as never losing the boil, and a cold pentola will kill a boil every time.

                    If that's meaningless to you, you're the decider...

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

          2. Hi, Alto:

            You cooking on electric or gas?

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            4 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Cooking on a GE Monogram, glass-top stove -- halogen burner.

              1. re: Alto2

                Hi, Alto2:

                Oh. Then (a) the Eneron pot I cited to splatgirl is not for you; and (b) much of the energy you're directing at the pan is probably reflecting right back off.

                Good Luck,
                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: Alto2

                  You might find that a dark-anodized finish pot works more efficiently than a stainless steel finish on this type of burner.

                  http://www.hottiechefs.com/582/all-cl...

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Good point: that Calphalon was a dark, anodized finish.

              2. I'll chime in from a "good eats" perspective: use only as much water to cook the pasta as necessary. Using a giant pot only dilutes the flavor of the left-over pasta water, which ought to be combined with your sauce in order to enrich it. You want concentrated flavor in the pasta water!

                4 Replies
                1. re: fame da lupo

                  I have never heard of such a thing. You may want a little starch in the water to help thicken a sauce. Not using enough water will only make the pasta stick.

                  1. re: iluvcookies

                    No offense, but it's not common knowledge in the US like it is in Italy and it's one reason why Italian pasta tastes better. Not only does the broth add richness, it helps the sauce adhere to the pasta. Pasta making steps:

                    1) Drain pasta but reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water
                    2) Add pasta and pasta water to sautee pan with your condimento/sauce
                    3) Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the sauce has cooked into the pasta and the sauce has thickened

                    Of course, you should use a fair amount of salt in your pasta water so keep this in mind when you season your condimento/sauce. E.g. since you know you'll be adding some salty broth at the end, don't overseason the condimento when you're cooking it.

                    Some additional reading, check out the book "Heat" by Buford for his detailing of the uses of pasta water by Batali at his restaurant Babbo.

                    1. re: fame da lupo

                      I know the technique and use it often, but it has been explained to me that it is to help thicken the sauce a bit, to get it to the right consistency. It isn't pasta "flavor" as much as the starch left in the water.