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Specifically well salted boiling water. How much water depends on how much pasta you are cooking. Plenty of water is best but even if you are limited to a small pan do not fret all your pasta needs is salted boiling water. In a perfect world a large oversized pot would be best. But if you are cooking lets say a pound of pasta for a group to enjoy even an eight cup/two quart pan will do just fine. Yes eight cups or two quarts of water will do the trick for a pound of pasta. Bring the water to the highest boil you can and leave it at that temperature. Add enough salt (I recommend sea salt for both flavor and mineral content) so that you can just taste it in the water. Too much salt is as bad as too little salt. Once the water is boiling fiercely add the pasta and stir it briskly in the pan until it comes to a boil once again. Here is an old professional pasta cooking trick for when you are cooking any type of spaghetti or long pasta. Break the pasta in half before dropping it into the pan. Not only will it fit perfectly but it will cook evenly. You are not waiting for the pasta to cook and bend itself into the pan which can take over a minute. Your pasta will have the same perfect Al Dente (firm slightly hard slightly crunchy) texture all the way through. In addition it is Much Easier to eat. It also takes on sauces much better than foot long plus pasta. Most pasta packages recommend that you cook the pasta for a certain number of minutes.
Think about what types of pastas you usually make and how much variety you will want from your machine. Making homemade pasta with an electric pasta machine can be easy because these machines include a greater variety of attachments and will save you the work of rolling the dough through the machine however many consider the texture to be inferior to the old fashioned crank machines. They are also a little more expensive but you will easily recoup the investment on any pasta machine since buying fresh pasta is quite expensive. Another consideration when purchasing a pasta machine is to look for a sturdy model made of stainless steel and is easy to clean. A clean machine is important to prevent the pasta from sticking when rolling and cutting through the machine.
Undercooking is less common because undercooked pasta is crunchy and obviously difficult to chew. Overcooked pasta (much more common) is limp loses its shape easily and won t hold a sauce well. Unfortunately overcooked pasta is not salvageable so you ll have to throw it away and start again. The key to cooking pasta well is to keep testing it as you cook it. There will be a guide cooking time on the packet so about a minute before that time is up start testing the pasta. It is ready when it is slightly firm to the bite - a state the Italians call "al dente" (firm but not crunchy). At the al dente stage turn off the heat and drain the pasta in a colander. Shake the pasta to get rid of all excess water (be especially careful to do this if they are pasta shapes which catch pockets of hot water) and serve immediately. The pasta continues to cook while it s draining it in the colander so when you are testing remember that what you eat will be cooked for a minute or two longer than what you re testing in the pan.