Good Alfredo sauce is perhaps one of my favorite foods. It is the bar by which I judge a new italian restaurant. It is my birthday dish. It is my splurge factor. If I could marry it, my wife would be in trouble. I have no shortage of opinions on any Alfredo sauce and cheap imitations instantly set me off for being lied to.
Alfredo sauce is one of those things where the ingredients are more important than the proportions used in the recipe. Basic Alfredo should use butter, cream, a little garlic, and Parmesan/Asiago/Romano cheese. Simple, right? Nah. Not if you want an Alfredo to remember!
One of my favorite parts of Alfredo is how forgiving the recipe can be. I will list real measurements of each ingredient, but you can change this up to suit your own taste.
1 stick Butter
1 cup cream
1 clove of pressed garlic
2 cups of sprinkle cheese
Melt butter, add cream and garlic, stir for 5 minutes at a simmer without scalding. Remove from heat, add cheese, continue stirring as the residual heat melts the cheese. Serve immediately over pasta such as linguine, fettuccini, or even spaghetti noodles in a pinch.
Add shrimp, peas, and/or chicken as extras. Edible squash or nasturtium flowers, or sliced cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf make good garnishes to add pizzaz to this plain white dish.
Butter… Please do not swap this with margarine. Margarine is not butter. If you use salted butter, it will carry that flavor into the dish. Change the amount of butter from 1/2 stick up to a full stick.
Cream… Not the same as milk. This is a creamy, indulgent dish. Enjoy it rarely if you have health concerns about the levels of animal fat in the dish, but enjoy it fully, every time. Double the amount of cream to make a saucier sauce that does not absorb into the pasta. This dilutes the flavors a little, but that can be countered with a hint of added salt. Be careful, salt really carries its flavor in this dish. You may want to step up your garlic to two cloves if you use double cream.
Garlic… Use fresh garlic over powdered, but the powdered stuff will reluctaantly work in a pinch. The garlic should be barely noticeable and really adds a lot to the sauce when used in small amounts. I love garlic, but I like my Alfredo to be lightly garlic.
Cheese… Fresher is better. By fresher, I mean right off a solid block, never having been exposed to oxygen inside the block. They sell fancy jars of Parmesan that were grated into thin strips… This works well for me. I like to avoid sprinkle cheese that comes in a powdered form, but I will use it if I have to. That sprinkle cheese loses its flavor after being exposed to air, and the companies that market that stuff load it with preservatives and anti caking agents which are not cheese related. You can double (or halve) the amount of cheese, but this is your thickener. This group of hard, grated cheeses will not melt well and by applying heat as it melts, you will get clumps of melted cheese instead of an evenly melted and distributed end product. Use the heat stored in your simmered cream/butter, remove from heat, and stir slowly until the sauce thickens.
This is an exceptionally delicious, though heart unfriendly dish that I enjoy a couple times per year at most. Since it is not in the regular meal rotation, I make no apologies to my heart and will not substitute greatness for health on this dish.
Oralgasm… There, I said it. Make your mouth happy!