The art of….Al Dente!
In cooking, al dente describes pasta cooked to be firm to the bite. It’s an Italian adjective that literally means “to the tooth”!
The term al dente identifies the ideal consistency for pasta and involves a brief cooking time, while “molto al dente” is the culinary term for slightly undercooked pasta.
Undercooking pasta is used in the first round of cooking when a pasta dish is going to be cooked twice. The
culinary term “al forno” is used for pasta dishes that are cooked twice.
In medieval times, it was typical for all cooking including pasta to be cooked for more than an hour until it was soft and mushy. This was perhaps necessary in the case of pasta made from tougher, less-refined grains.
By the 18th century, better refinery of duram wheat and changes to the pasta manufacturing process significantly reduced the necessary cooking time. Chewy ‘al dente’ pasta became the norm.
In practice, al dente means that the pasta is cooked just enough to still be firm, where the center still remains a bit under-cooked.
When chewed, the pasta should still have a bit of bite, but of course it shouldn’t actually be crunchy!