24 Jan Pasta in BBQ World
How to cook it on a Cast Iron Wok
Pasta is the main ingredient of many Italian dishes among the best known in the world, such as Carbonara or Amatriciana, second for fame perhaps only to Pizza. It is therefore likely that you happened to try to cook it at home and I firmly believe that moving your gaze away from the pot of boiling water to turn it over the window, on the kettle that rests in your garden, you have had the feeling of two worlds that you could not perceive as more distant.
In truth, there is a method to cook pasta that is very fashionable here in Italy especially in recent years, called “pasta risottata”, or “to cook pasta as if it were a risotto”. When the barbecue phenomenon has mediatically exploded also from us, the numerous purists of this hobby, those who would prepare even coffee on the grill, have made an almost automatic association between this technique and one of the accessories that in those years we began to see with increasing frequency on the shelves of the barbecue stores: the cast iron wok.
The pasta risottata in the wok not only has characteristics similar to that cooked in the traditional method but even is enriched with toasted notes and a unique intensity of taste, due to the powerful and dry heat transmitted by the cast iron, becoming in all respects a differential technique in the realization of the dish most loved by Italians.
Forget the pot with boiling water and salt. Making a pasta risottata means firstly to make a sauce base frying the ingredients on the cast iron. You will be amazed realizing how much the intensity of the heat is able to give it smells, colors and unique tastes. The next step is to add the pasta as you buy it in the supermarket, raw and then add cold water to almost cover it all. Have you ever tried making Ragù at home? Do you bear in mind when you lower the flame letting the heat slowly make its magic, periodically adding water to allow a nice maillardization but avoiding burns? Here is the same thing but made with a more powerful heat and cooking pasta at the same time, while you’ll keep on stirring it. If the water dries out before it is cooked, gradually add small quantities to keep the thickness of the sauce under control. It is important to use cold water and making it slide on the edges of the wok towards the center. In this way it will heat up instantly reaching the pasta at the perfect temperature. If we did it with hot water it would evaporate even before the pasta may realize it. With the practice you will learn how to get to cooking with the perfect thickness of the sauce so to be able to immediately dish out and serve your pasta course at the ideal time.
To practice, I bring you a recipe extracted from my book Subito Barbecue, which will show you how to make Linguine with Lobster and Cherry Tomatoes. It is an elegant and refined dish, ideal for a special occasion in which in addition to delighting your guests you can amaze them with a cooking method they do not expect.