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Sauce three golden rules

Sauce is half of the success of a pasta dish.

As almost everything in Italian Cuisine, sauce making has a lot of unwritten rules. For a better understanding of the world of sauces let’s start from a simple point. There are two macro categories: let’s discover them together.

Red sauce and white sauce

Traditional home made tomato sauce

Tomato is starring in a red sauce, meanwhile the white one is usually made out of olive oil. 

Red sauces are more liquid and should be accompanied with thick kinds of pasta. They are also better for the types of pasta that have a hole in the middle. Why? So that the sauce gets stuck in the hole creating a bite of pure joy. 

White Sauces are a bit more risky to prepare, because they are usually not so liquid or creamy, and the pasta itself is pretty dry. You always want the sauce to “legare” (bind) with the pasta to create a perfect consistency in your mouth. On the other hand, white sauces really exalt the flavors in your sauce. That’s why, for example, many mushroom sauces are white (you also don’t want to mess with the mushrooms flavor). 

When cooking a nice dish of pasta there are three golden rules you should never forget about to have the perfect sauce:


1 – Il Soffritto 

Soffritto is the base of almost every sauce in Italy. It is the first thing you start preparing right after putting the water for the pasta to boil on the hob. Soffritto is prepared in a pan with 2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil and some garlic or onion. That’s all. 

Cook the garlic (cloves or diced) and onion at low heat until they become golden. Then pour the tomato sauce or other ingredients in the pan and keep going with your sauce.

EXTRA: If you like it to be mildly spicy you can add half red chili pepper. 

2 – Mantecare

This strange word means that you should keep cooking your pasta in the sauce a couple minutes after it finished cooking in the water. After you strained your pasta, put it all in the pan with the sauce and let it cook for a couple more minutes. I suggest you to use a big pan, it makes it easier.

Remember! Pasta absorbs the liquids while cooking, so it will absorb part of the liquid (and flavor) of your sauce too. 

3 – Sauce should be creamy

While traveling around in the last ten years, I’ve seen people doing the most horrible things with pasta, but the worst was to eat it with a dry sauce (corn and chicken for example) or ketchup. 

Pasta was created to drown in the sauce, not to dry in the sun or floating on the surface. If your pasta is drowning, then you know you have a good pasta. 

Whenever you start a sauce be sure it will be creamy. If it is red, cook the tomato sauce at the right point, and do not let it dry too much or it will become sour and acid. If the sauce is white be sure to use ingredients that contain water (the base for every cream) or add a bit of cooking cream. Never too much though, or you will cover the taste of the other ingredients. 

So, this is my three golden rules when cooking a sauce. 

What are yours? 

Did you make any mistake and want to share with us? Please be welcome. 

See you soon in Italy. 

Andrea (yes, a male name in Italy)


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