Alfredo sauce help needed

As my username might indicate I’m a baker. Professionally that is. I love my work, and if I do say so myself I’m pretty good at it. I’m also a decent all around cook.

But where I come up way short is sauces and gravies. And I do love me some Alfredo sauce on pasta. The problem is when I try to make it it’s never as good as even the stuff that comes in jars in the grocery store.

So what I need is help and advice from Dopers who are good at sauce making, particularly Alfredo sauce, in all it’s white, creamy goodness. Recipes wouldn’t hurt either.:smiley:

Yes, I know there are recipe sites with feedback available. But silly as it seems asking fellow Dopers seems more “personal”

Can I please get some help?

Here is a recipe I’ve used with great success. I omit the pesto, though, just out of personal preference. I use a regular pan (not non-stick) and a wooden spoon.

In lieu of essence (overrated!), use any spices you like. Also, pre-cooked shrimp or crawfish allows you to skip a step as you can just toss the already cooked crustaceans into the pan right before you plate just to heat them through.

Alfredo sauce incredible easy. The trick is that you have to start with good ingredients. The cream and butter aren’t hard, but do take the time to find real, high quality Parmesan.

For 1 pound dry pasta:

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
~ cup of shredded Parmesan
salt and pepper. Lots of people say white pepper, but I think it works with normal black as well.
nutmeg, preferably fresh grated

Optionally, you can add some garlic.

Melt butter in a saute pan big enough to add the (cooked) pasta to. Add the cream, heat until it’s hot (2-3 minutes). Add the Parmesan, a bit at a time, whisking to blend. Finish with a pinch of nutmeg and salt & pepper to taste.

If you’re using garlic, don’t use to much - maybe one small clove. Add to melted butter and saute for a few seconds before adding the cream. Proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

Once the sauce is done, add the cooked pasta to the saute pan. Toss to combine. Eat. Now go for a long run to stay healthy!

My Alfredo with Shells and Shrimp recipe:

1 lb package frozen uncooked, shelled and deveined shrimp - set out before starting to let thaw a little in the sink, or run cold water over the shrimp in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels before adding to recipe

1 package medium tri-color shell pasta, get it started before the sauce so it’s ready to incorporate when the sauce is done.

Alfredo sauce:

1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked tri-color pepper

Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate. When softly bubbling, add the shrimp and cracked pepper. When shrimp are pink, taste and adjust pepper as needed.

Add the pasta to the saute pan and gently toss to coat. Transfer everything into a warm serving bowl and top with more grated cheese.

I usually serve with a tomato salad on the side, wine, and chocolate torte for dessert.

So simple, and turns out great every time!

I’ll agree with the suggestions already posted. I came in to post my own recipe, but it’s so similar to those already posted that it’s not worth the effort. There will always be subtle variations between recipes, but all good alfredos start by heating butter and heavy cream, then fresh grated parmesan is added. I add fresh ground pepper and nutmeg, myself.

Just remember: boiling is not your friend. Hot cream is good…boiling cream is a disaster.

I just bought a container of Alfredo sauce the other day I’m planning on using with some of my home-grown spaghetti squash.

It contains Romano as well as parmesan. Is there any reason for that?

I was going to make my own, but when I priced both parmesan and Romano I said “screw it” and just bought the pre-made stuff.

I often put romano in as well. Sometimes, when I feel frisky, I make my alfredo with a 50/50 mix of the two.

And there are really two grades of cheese you can concern yourself with: 1. Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano at $25/lb or whatever they go for 2. Similar-looking wedges of parmesan and romano cheeses for $10/lb that don’t have the cachet of being made in the proper region.

The way I see it, if it’s going to be melted into a ridiculous amount of butter and cream, it’s not going to preserve the delicate essences that let me know the cows were feeding on one particular species of grass on some south facing slope in the Apennines. If I’m going to be slicing chunks off that wedge to eat straight up (yum), then I might discern and appreciate a difference. But to brew up a batch of heart-attack-on-a-plate? I’ll go for the non-PDO stuff every time. By the same token, I prefer to get smashed at New Year’s on California sparking wine, not some real Champagne.

Really? What happens when you boil it?

My experience is you can boil the shit out of cream. You can’t do that if you’ve already added the Parmesan (it tends to clump), but plain ol’ cream? Go ahead and boil it if you want to reduce it.

traditionally, alfredo is made with just parmesean cheese, but if you want it to taste closer to the bottles (only better, of course) you may want to experiment with adding different blends of cheeses. Try mixing two or three Italian hard cheeses to your sauce. The recipes that have been posted are pretty standard. BTW, alfredo isn’t supposed to be as thick as the stuff that comes out of the jar, so expect your sauce to be a bit thinner. Also, try serving it in warmed bowls.

Thanks for the advice so far. I’m going to go through the recipes carefully, and hope to try them. Fortunately there is a store in town that sells real Parmesan. And I do love garlic!

Eh…I was typing without thinking. Serves me right for multitasking. When I said “cream” I was thinking “sauce”, and was referring to the (nearly) finished product. Obviously, there, you’re going to burn and separate if you let it boil hard. A little bubbling won’t kill you, but a lot would be bad.

Athena’s right - I boil the hell out of my alfredo (before adding the cheese, of course). I like thick alfredo sauce, so I reduce the cream a bit.

It takes a while - I probably boil the cream and butter mix for 20ish minutes, then I take it off the heat, add the cheese, and Bob’s your uncle. It does make for a thick sauce that might be too thick if you let it cool too much. But who does that?! Alfredo’s made for eating, right now.

Good luck, Baker! It’s not hard to make a good alfredo, but I did need a bit of practice.

Heh. The other way to make it really thick is to add a metric shitload of cheese. That’s the way I like to thicken it. :smiley:

Yes! This is what I do! This also has the advantage of ending up with more, rather than less, alfredo!

I’ve found that nutmeg is the key–freshly grated. Don’t use a lot. Just enough to make you ask, “what is that” when you taste. Also, even if you like it thick, make it thinner than you like because when you put it with the pasta, and serve, it will thicken significantly.

I wish I could find my recipe. I was working on a reduced-fat version. Something like…

1 can low fat chicken broth
1 pint fat free half and half
1 cup reduced fat grated parmesan
Coarse ground black pepper
Powdered or minced garlic to taste
Chopped parsley (optional)
Water, cornstarch

Bring the broth to a boil; add half and half, whisk in parmesan and other ingredients. Reduce heat. Mix a couple Tb of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of water. Stir in the water/cornstarch well.

If I find the exact proportions, I’ll post them. It was decent, satisfying.

That’s my method, too. Half a metric shitload of parmesan, half of romano. I sweat a couple of halved or quartered cloves of garlic (remove before) when I’m melting the butter.

White pepper is prettier in a pale sauce, but I’m usually too lazy to buy it, clean out the peppermill, load the thing, use, empty, and refill with black pepper. I should get another peppergrinder, but, like I said, I’m lazy. And cheap.

I agree that white pepper in a pale sauce is the norm…but something about alfredo makes the little black specks look right. They certainly don’t hurt. I don’t usually use white pepper even when I do happen to have it loaded up in the spare grinder. But in a white wine cream sauce, I’ll always make the effort to use white pepper. Maybe it’s just me.

Thank you for providing a justification for my lazy cheapness.

“The little black specks look right in Alfredo sauce.” I shall use this, even if no one ever has the audacity to question my use of black pepper.