More than twenty years after Massimo Morozzi's "Pasta Set" (1985), Alessi once again brings its innovative spirit to the world of pasta. And it does so by proposing a new type of pot – and an apparently new method of cooking – so radically different from the classic Italian tradition as to make more conventional sorts veritably bristle with indignation (I say 'apparently' because, as explained below, Alain Ducasse has in fact rediscovered an ancient cooking method used by olive pickers, which he has used his talent to update for us).
The surprising thing is that, apart from the fame and expertise of Ducasse, multi-starred French chef who conceived the new "Pasta Pot" along with young designer Patrick Jouin, it is not only highly practical but makes a truly different pasta with sauce, giving it a new and interesting flavour (i.e. the starches are not discarded with the cooking water but are totally absorbed by the pasta, and the same holds true for the ingredients of the sauce).
Every step of the cooking process is amalgamated: first you put the dry pasta in the "Pasta Pot", sautéing lightly if you wish; then the various ingredients of whichever sauce you wish to make; then last comes water or broth, all at once or gradually, cooking everything together with the specially designed cover, stirring occasionally. In just a little more time than normally required to boil the pasta according to the classic method, your pasta with sauce is done. And preparation has required only a single pot, which you can – indeed must – bring to the table and serve directly from its special trivet.
The revival of this ancient method is accompanied by a booklet containing a number of recipes developed by Ducasse himself according to an escalating scale of refinement, at the end of which – and I can attest to this, having personally tried every one of them – one has achieved perfect mastery of the utensil and is ready to create intriguing recipes of one's own.
It is safe to predict that over the next few years, just as with Morozzi's "Pasta Set", we will be seeing a veritable explosion the world over of "new" pans inspired by this small but significant innovation in the field of cookware.
"The integrity of an ancient cooking method adapted to the necessities of modern life: that's what the Pasta Pot gives you. With this type of cooking, called 'by concentration', the starch keeps the pasta together and the undiluted flavours retain their intensity. The result is a wholesome, natural, exceptionally tasty dish that's quick and easy to prepare.
In the old days, when olive pickers would go out to work in the olive groves, they had very little water to cook with. To solve the problem, they cooked their pasta like a risotto: after having blended it with the herbs and mushrooms and other vegetables they'd found while walking, they covered it all with the little water they had until it was absorbed. This is the traditional method, which I've revived through my restaurant Le Louis XV in Monaco, whose secrets Alessi is about to reveal!"