It’s taken me two Alfredo recipes on the blog before I’ve decided to just get it over with and finally post a recipe for a basic Alfredo sauce. This is the heavy, creamy, super rich kind. A lightened up version will be coming to the blog soon.
I didn’t know how to make Alfredo sauce though until recently. It’s one of those things I preferred to leave to restaurant cooks while digging into a comfy plate of fettuccine Alfredo, fork deep in rich sauce and blissfully ignorant.
But hey, if I’m gonna post Alfredo recipes, I need to know the basics, right? Turns out it wasn’t that hard. In fact all it takes are three basic ingredients: butter, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.
But while the ingredient list is simple there are a few key techniques that should be mentioned for the execution of a good Alfredo sauce. It can make all difference between restaurant quality Alfredo sauce and a lumpy, chewy mess.
First you need to simmer it over medium low heat, it should never reach a boil or the sauce will separate. If you’ve ever heated up Alfredo leftovers in the microwave and notice a pool of melted butter separated from the sauce, it’s pretty much like that. Doesn’t look all that great and it’s tougher to reason with yourself why you deserved it, looking all obviously bad for you like that.
Second, and this is the most important thing of all, you must have freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. I don’t like shredding cheese at all so I tried a shortcut with store bought pre-shredded Parmesan and that stuff just does not melt. Remember the lumpy mess I mentioned earlier? Yeah that’s the culprit.
I read that it’s all the preservatives that interfere with the melty magic. I guess the same things that prevent them from clumping together in the bag stops them from melting well. And trust me, I’ve ruined two batches of Alfredo sauce this way. The first time round and the third time round after I forgot the freshly shredded rule.
So shred that cheese yourself. It’s worth it! After resigning myself to this fact, I bought the proper tool to shred stuff and it wasn’t such an ordeal. And that’s all you need to know. Melt the butter, stir in the heavy cream and add freshly shredded Parmesan cheese in portions. Stir, melt, repeat until it’s all in. Once you remove it from the heat and let it sit, it’ll thicken up some more.
Toss it with some pasta and add whatever protein you like: grilled chicken or shrimp and you’re set! This amount of sauce works out well with about half a pound of pasta.
A few tips for heating it up: if you have some leftovers, heat it up over the stove on low heat and add some milk or heavy cream to make it creamy again. Heating up cream-based pastas in the microwave is never a good idea. You’ll get that evil butter pool again.