Spaghetti graces the table of every Filipino party, whether big or small. But unlike preparing the dish for intimate gatherings, cooking it for a big party requires an all-hands-on-deck effort in the kitchen. Even seasoned cooks need help when planning bulk portions. It may be a massive undertaking, but don't fret. Do you want to know the secret to breezing through its prep? Learn how to cook spaghetti for huge crowds with stress-relieving, time-saving tricks.
1. Prep and Store Key Ingredients
Mis en place is the French term for prepping ingredients and equipment before cooking. Apply this method and cut, slice, or peel, all your recipe’s primary ingredients up to a month ahead. Store these components in airtight containers, then refrigerate or freeze until ready for cooking.
2. Cook Enough Noodles
Getting the noodles out of the way frees up the stove for dishes requiring same-day cooking. However, when cooking them ahead, it helps to compute how much pasta you need to boil. As a rule of thumb, cook 56 grams of pasta and 85 grams of sauce per person. Follow the lead of restaurants and go for 100-150 grams of spaghetti portions for each guest.
3. Use Less Water for the Noodles
Despite what the packaging says, you can reduce the recommended amount of water for boiling your noodles. Using just a quarter of the water in the instructions can help reduce your boiling time. For quick, flavorsome noodles, boil the pasta in stock containing meaty Knorr Beef Cubes.
4. Store Cooked Noodles in the Freezer
You can keep your pasta in the freezer for up to three months. That means you can already boil your spaghetti as early as October. But you have to cook them just until al dente. Don’t go beyond eight to 10 minutes, then rinse them in running water immediately. Overcooked noodles can get challenging to reheat. Plus, cooked pasta can spoil quickly, so store them right away.
But the best part about using frozen noodles? You don't need to thaw them out anymore. Just drop them straight into a pot of boiling water and reheat them for not more than five minutes.
5. Use a Slow Cooker
The conventional way to cook Filipino-style spaghetti sauce is to sauté everything on the day of the party. But a more efficient method is to cook the sauce while you sleep. How? Throw your fave Pinoy spaghetti sauce ingredients in a large-capacity slow cooker, then leave it to cook on its own. Come morning, you'll have a nice warm sauce ready for the occasion.
6. Freeze Your Spaghetti Sauce
Don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker. Here’s another tip for you: freeze your sauce! It is an industry trick to save time when cooking for big parties. Follow suit by preparing your favorite spaghetti sauce recipe, then letting it cool completely. Transfer the sauce to zip-top bags and freeze. You can also divide it into several batches, so you’re always party-ready even if surprise guests arrive.
7. Prep Toppings a Day Before
Like with the sauce components, you can also prep your toppings early. Make homemade meatballs and just store them in a freezer-safe bag. You can already grate your cheese ahead but keep it away from contamination through proper storage in airtight containers. No time to shred blocks of cheese? Grab a tub of store-bought cheese sauce instead. It's a convenient topping for your pasta and even burgers, nachos, or fries.
8. Pre-Soak Spaghetti Noodles
It’s the day of the party, but you forgot to pre-cook your noodles. Worry not because there’s one more time-saving trick to help you. While making other dishes, you can soak uncooked noodles in water for 30 minutes. Once ready, all you need to do is to boil your pasta for one minute. Done!
Congratulations! You've made it to the party without stressing. Some final reminders: don't forget to thaw your sauces and toppings in the fridge a day before the event. Your cooked and frozen spaghetti won’t need this – just reheat them immediately. If you want, you can even serve these components separately, so you don’t spend time mixing them anymore.
Knowing how to cook spaghetti for big parties can help you save on time and even budget. Follow these tips to make holiday kitchen work easy and breezy!