Why Thicker Noodles Are The Absolute Best Choice For Slow-Cooked Pasta

Fettuccine pasta dish in sauce
Fettuccine pasta dish in sauce - Xsandra/Getty Images

There's just something about a slow-cooked meal that feels particularly decadent (and tastes especially delicious). And while slow-cooking might require a little patience, the good news is that it doesn't really require a ton of effort. Whether you've got a classic Dutch oven on deck or prefer to use an electric Crock Pot or similar appliance, all you typically need to do is load in your ingredients, turn up the heat, and set a timer.

However, if you're planning to whip up a slow-cooked pasta dish, things tend to get a little more complicated -- but it's still totally worth the task. Just think: hearty pasta combined with flavorful sauce, gooey cheese, and perhaps a tender and juicy meat component to top it all off. It doesn't get much better than that, so long as you know the right way to slow-cook pasta.

First things first: Choose your noodles carefully. Since the last thing you want is a mushy mess for dinner, you want to make sure your pasta doesn't get overcooked in the process. Therefore, your best bet is to opt for thicker styles of pasta, which take longer to cook through given their density. The sturdier your pasta, the better it can handle the longer cooking time in a creamy sauce or broth-based dish. Some great types of noodles to use for slow-cooking include fettuccine, penne, farfalle (aka bow-tie), or even a stuffed tortellini.

Read more: 44 Types Of Pasta And When You Should Be Using Them

Other Tips For Nailing Slow-Cooked Pasta Dishes

Slow-cooked penne alfredo
Slow-cooked penne alfredo - Jessica Morone/Tasting Table

Now, even after you've acquired your extra-robust noodles, there are a few other things to keep in mind if you're hoping to get the perfect pasta consistency in your slow-cooked dish. For starters, you definitely don't want your pasta simmering in your slow cooker for hours on end, like you do your meat and sauces.

Again, to avoid overcooking it to the point of sogginess, you should always add in the pasta as the very last step of your preparation, whether you mix in pre-cooked noodles right before serving your dish, or choose to cook the raw pasta directly in your sauce or broth.

If you do choose to add dry noodles to the slow cooker, you'll also want to turn up the heat to cook them, as the higher temperature is better for achieving al dente perfection and preventing mushiness. Still, the pasta will take longer to cook through in the slow cooker than it will in boiling water, so we recommend checking for doneness periodically to get the exact timing right for your dish. That aforementioned thicker pasta will, at least, afford you a slightly larger margin of error, but according to Tasting Table's own Crock Pot Chicken Alfredo recipe, which features penne and a cream sauce, you should have tender noodles after about 25 to 30 minutes. As is the benefit of slow-cooking, they'll be deeply infused with the flavors of your other ingredients by the time they're ready to eat, so your patience will pay off.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.