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Pasta Pentola Recs?

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  • Alto2 Sep 12, 2012 06:51 PM
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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.

                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        Actually, it is both.

                2. If you want to boil water fast, there are two things you can do:

                  1. Use a smaller pot with less water.
                  2. Use an induction cooker.

                  The seven quart All-Clad pasta pentola on an induction cooker would probably boil water fast enough for anybody. Expensive, though. But the greater efficiency of induction heating would partly offset the cost of the equipment.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: GH1618

                    Hi, GH1618: "2. Use an induction cooker."

                    Yes, I think this is essentially right, but it has to do with how many Btus you're dumping into the pan. For simply boiling water fast, an $ induction hotplate and a thin ferrous pot make sense over a $$$ high output gas hob and conductive pot. As my 2010 experiment showed, dumping huge amounts of energy tended to equalize boil times to within about 10 seconds across all pan compositions.

                    Aloha,
                    Kaleo

                  2. So it takes awhile to come to a boil. Make antipasti, drink wine. Domani.

                    And if you are serious about a different pasta pentola, the Mauviel copper one is interesting. Not that much pricier than AC.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: tim irvine

                      Hi, Tim:

                      You had me going there for awhile... The pentola itself is not copper, is it? The only M ones I've seen are SS inside a copper stocker.

                      And what's the purpose of such a high rebated rim? You obviously can't put more water in than the pot will hold... I don't get it.

                      Aloha,
                      Kaleo

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        It does look interesting, doesn't it? The pentola is stainless. I've seen two versions of that rim: an earlier version that must have been 2" or more tall, and a later iteration that was only about 1"--just enough space to rivet the handles to the pentola. I have no idea why they made the taller version for a time. The other thing that you cannot know without handling one is that, although the spec sheets from Mauviel and Williams Sonoma say that the pot is 2mm thick, the several that I have handled have been a bit thinner than that. The one that I actually measured was no more than 1.5mm. That was the most disappointing aspect.

                        1. re: jljohn

                          Hi, Jeremy:

                          I guess I've been lucky. One of my early copperware purchases was a 14Q Ruffoni stocker. And I stumbled onto two SS pentolas at yard sales soon thereafter that fit it and another large--but smaller--saucepan perfectly. One is relatively shallow, so works as a steamer insert, too; the other dives deeper into the pots. $5 each.

                          I actually like the 1.5mm thickness for boiling/blanching/steaming,but I have to be careful using it for chowder.

                          Aloha,
                          Kaleo

                        2. re: kaleokahu

                          I have never seen one up close and personal, as they say, but it seemed to me if you were set on a pasta pentola and you were willing to pay in the AC price range, it would be worth exploring this as a back door way of getting a copper stocker. Years ago I got the WS combo pot, an SS affair that seems to have a clad decently but not generously thick aluminum disc on the bottom, a pasta insert and a steamer basket, a 10 quart pot withan obnoxiously tight sealing glass lid. I use the lid from an old copper casserole so that I avoid the sputtering effect, occasionally use the steamer basket, almost never use the pasta insert, preferring to use a slotted spoon for ravioli and the like and a colander for spaghetti and the like, and chiefly use it for stock. Someday I will come across a 12 quart 2.5 thick tin lined copper stocker at a reasonable price at a moment when I have a little cash to squander. I will feel guilty until I bring it home and make broth. Until then my multipot is just fine for boiling water, and I take my advice, adjusting for lengthy boiling time with wine and cheese.

                          1. re: tim irvine

                            Hi, Tim:

                            No reason you *couldn't* have a copper pentola...

                            To me, it's always seemed a little wacky that the pots and pentolas that fit well together only come in $$ or $$$ sets (and sets that don't seem to work well for much besides pasta). Prior to lucking into my two pentolas at a garage sale, I was planning to just go out and buy a cheap aluminum pot to stand in/span my stocker, and break out the drill press...

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Given my WS pot is a standard 24, I figure I'll hang onto the inserts when I find my stockpot, heavy copper, hammered, with iron handles in my dreams.

                      2. Because you are using a halogen burner, an All Clad cookware with reflective surface may take a bit longer to heat up. In addition, your Calphalon pasta pentola may simply be a smaller pot with a smaller volume of water to heat. 12 quart of water will simply take longer to boil than a 6 quart of water.