Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Update: Here is an objective and non-opinion based question.

I recently asked another question on how I could make a weeks worth of pasta on a Sunday night and have it still taste good throughought the week. I've been advised to store the sauce separately from the pasta and use hot water instead of the microwave to heat it up, in addition to cooking the pasta less al dente than normal.

However, when I buy frozen pasta, notably fettuccine Alfredo, I cannot believe how good it is. I'm referring to the boxed frozen food that you throw in a microwave as opposed to cooking on a stove or heating up with boiling water.

What precisely enables these cheap ($2.50 plus tax) frozen meals taste so good, and more importantly, how can I replicate it? I overdose my pasta with salt anyways, so that can't be it.

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Mien, SAJ14SAJ, GdD, KatieK, Aaronut Mar 28 at 1:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4  
What enables these cheap foods to have any taste at all? Additives, flavours, chemicals, nothing natural. Why would you even aspire to replicate completely unnatural behaviours. It is possible to cook a tasty, wholesome and healthy meal in the same time that it takes to defrost and reheat a microwave meal. So why go for the junk if you can have the good stuff? –  teylyn Mar 27 at 8:22
1  
You might find the accepted answer here of interest: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/8775/… –  Jolenealaska Mar 27 at 9:32
    
@teylyn if the "additives, flavors, chemicls, and nothing natural" make it taste good, than I am interested in their precise nature. Please share if you know :). But really this is about convenience. I am unable to cook a decent meal in the 5 minutes it takes to microwave a frozen meal, with no clean up time required. –  Matthew Moisen Mar 27 at 9:42
1  
@teylyn : fats, sugars and salt are perfectly natural! Not good for you in large amounts, but perfectly natural. –  Joe Mar 27 at 12:50
    
What @Joe said. Usually, adding salt or butter add/enhance flavor to a dish, the issue is really the health thing. –  JoséNunoFerreira Mar 27 at 15:59

2 Answers 2

You were advised to not cook your pasta at once, because we assumed that you are going to keep it in the fridge. With liquid water, your pasta will grow mushy or dry, depending on how wet you store it. If you freeze it, these processes will not happen, and the pasta will not degrade.

The pasta in the supermarket frozen packages tastes good for other reasons beyond just not being mushy. It has exactly the right proportions of fat, flavoring agents and the like which will make it both cheap and tasty. Nobody can tell you the exact recipe, it is the company's secret. Their food technologists have created it after years of empirical research backed by theoretical knowledge and the availability of industrial ingredients and instruments. (If they list "modified starch", then something was done to the starch to ensure it has some characteristic; we never know what exactly was done, or what characteristic was created).

You can try to make it for yourself, by making a sauce you like, freezing it together with the pasta and see if you like the result when defrosted. If you like it well enough, you've won. If you don't, it depends on your skill of analysing food shortcomings whether you will be able to improve it substantially. You are welcome to ask us concrete questions about concrete faults once you've done the experiment.

share|improve this answer
    
I will freeze my next batch and report back. Thanks for the input on the modified starch, I see it all over my collection. –  Matthew Moisen Mar 28 at 6:22

Based on limited personal experience I suggest trying Crisco shortening (the diglycerides?) or vine ripe tomatoes with iodized salt.

share|improve this answer
    
Use Crisco in what way? Do you mean as a substitute for oil or butter? That's a strange thing to do with pasta. And why would it matter if salt is iodized? –  Carey Gregory Mar 28 at 23:00
    
I don't know how to apply the Crisco to pasta because i only every used it to bake beyond 100*C. I was answering pretty much just the "cheap frozen meal" part. To me iodized salt and sea/kosher salt taste very different. –  ran8 Mar 29 at 23:55
    
"What specifically makes microwavable frozen food taste so delicious? " –  ran8 Mar 30 at 16:52
    
"I overdose my pasta with salt anyways, so that can't be it." I can't just comment yet. –  ran8 Mar 30 at 17:17

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.