Pasta cooks by soaking up its cooking liquid, of course, but there’s usually a lot of that left over when it’s done. If you’re using water, as most of us do most of the time, that doesn’t seem so important. But this week, I was thinking of cooking pasta in chicken broth, and I wasn’t about to throw any of that down the drain.
Stack Exchange’s Seasoned Advice site gives a couple of different answers, but I learned pasta could soak up anywhere from 1.1 to 1.4 times its own weight in liquid. As you’ll see, I ended up using two parts liquid to one part pasta — but take it from me, it was needed and it worked.
This does take more work and care than cooking pasta in a lot of water. You can’t just leave the lid off the pot and give it a stir once in a while. You can’t stand the spaghetti up in the pot until the lower ends soften and you can get the upper ends in without breaking them. When you’re not moving the pasta around so all of it gets into the broth, you have to keep the lid on so the broth doesn’t all cook off. But when you taste the pasta with the chickeny flavor cooked in, it’s worth it.
By the way, I got the “quarter’s diameter worth of spaghetti” measurement from Instructables. If it doesn’t sound like much, remember the sheer length of the spaghetti. Lifehacker suggests using a 20 ounce soda or water bottle — just fill up the opening with spaghetti, or cut off the neck of the bottle and keep it around just for that.
In the recipe, I’ve given two variations that start out the same but end up tasting a world apart — my taste testers liked both, though.
- 4 ounces spaghetti (2 quarters’ worth in diameter)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- Garlic powder
- Bring the broth to a boil in a small pot.
- Break the spaghetti till it will fit in the pot easily.
- Add it carefully to the boiling broth.
- Turn heat down to low.
- Cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir frequently to make sure all the pasta is absorbing broth.
- Remove from heat when pasta has soaked up all the broth and is tender.
- Stir in sour cream.
- Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt to taste.
- Variation: Instead of sour cream etc., stir in 1 tbsp plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce and a few shreds of grated fresh ginger root.