What the heck am I doing wrong? (Alfredo sauce)

OK, I know I have all the right ingredients: butter, whipping cream, parmesan cheese, nutmeg, pepper. Oh, and noodles. I know not to let the parmesan get too hot, or it will get tough. I am not clueless.

Why can’t I make alfredo sauce that comes out like alfredo sauce??

I have tried this with fresh grated parmesan, with dried parmesan, and with chunks of fresh parmesan. I have tried putting the cheese in at the very last second, I have tried putting the cheese in with the cold whipping cream over low heat, I have tried whisking it into the butter and cream, I have tried throwing the entire mess into the blender to smooth it. No matter what I do, I end up with a thin, vaguely cheesy-tasting sauce and a lump of melted-together parmesan that plops onto my noodles.

I’m obviously missing some crucial clue here. Anyone have any idea what it might be?

You need to make a rue.

Melt the butter in the saucepan, and then add a little bit of flour. Stir it in until it makes an even paste. Add your cream to that, a bit at a time.

I second what Larry said. My 2c: make the paste using about the same volume of butter and flour: melt the butter, sieve in the flour, and stir on the stove until it’s very smooth. Then take it off the heat and add a bit of the cream, mix up until quite smooth again and return to a medium heat, stirring all the time, just below simmering point - this will make it thicken; when it’s thicker and very smooth, take it off the heat again and put in some more cream; repeat until the cream is totally gone. Return to a low heat, and mix in the cheese and other ingredients, stirring all the time until it’s dissolved (fresh grated parmesan will work best).

Nitpick: it’s “Roux” not “rue” (named after the Roux brothers, the famous chefs).

Hunh. NONE of the recipes I have call for roux. I’ll have to try that.


Cussed homophones.

so, only gay people can cook? man, that’s racist! :wink:
thanks for the recipe.

Yep, roux roux roux. Only way to go with sauces and gravies.

Be sure to let the roux “rest” and return to room temperature before using it. You will not want to overly brown the roux while cooking it. You may also wish to consider using a bain marie to avoid “breaking” the sauce. Be sure to add the cream very slowly when you begin thinning the roux.

“Roux, roux, roux your sauce, gently on low heat!
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, now it’s time to eat.”


Made me hungry!

As zenster says, your roux and your thinner should be the same temperature. Cooling the roux is good, but when I make gravy I add boiling stock to sizzling roux for about the same effect.

I suppose I should stress letting the roux “rest.” This permits the flour granules to “bloom” and will give your sauce that velvety restaurant style texture. Five to ten minutes is a minimum time period.

Why, why, why did I open this thread before going to dinner?

Well…not necessarily. Many reduction sauces such as Marsala do not call for a roux. There is a small amount of flour in the fond left by the coated chicken or veal, but it’s doesn’t qualify as a roux. The wine is reduced and then thickened with cream and reduced again. End nitpick.

You’re right, Chef: one of my best sauces was drippings from a curry-dusted duck, deglazed with a whole bottle of champagne, then reduced to about 1/4 the volume. We all died.

Is it cool to use whipping cream in alfredo sauce? I’ve been sticking to half and half for mine, because the additives in whipping cream make me a bit nervous.

I’d go without the roux in this. Just reduce the cream by letting it simmer for quite a while, and it will thicken up by itself.

For a lower fat (and less tasty) sauce, use a roux and milk, which won’t reduce.

Half & Half or heavy cream is best, but you can actually make it with any milk product. There is even a fat-free Half & Half that works just fine.

So, are we all allowed to presume that your (well fed) shade is doing the typing now?

Having tasted lissener’s cooking myself, I would suggest that “died” is more in reference to le petit mort. :wink: