Pasta with Alfredo sauce is the ultimate indulgence. No one can pass up a dish of simple Fettucine Alfredo or Penne pasta with Alfredo. Some restaurants offer variations such as Cajun Alfredo which build on the basic recipe. Garlic, parsley or basil can add some light flavor or color. But the basic Alfredo sauce recipe is very easy to make and is ready in just a few minutes. If only it had as few calories as the time it took to make it!!!
I have thought of blogging about this for a long time, but it seemed too simple. But I saw an episode by the great chef Sanjeev Kapoor on the Indian cable channel FoodFood where he showed us how to make ‘Alfredo’ sauce. It was so unlike any Alfredo sauce – even the sauce at the pocket friendly Cici’s pizza is probably better than this – that I felt I HAD to blog about this.
The things that stumped me most was – no Parmesan cheese in the recipe!! Just a couple spoonfuls of cream cheese!!
We know that good parmesan cheese or parmegano reggiano comes at a price. But it is worth it. Like good quality saffron. And the zillion calories in this dish make it an indulgence anyway. Parmesan is essential for the nutty, grainy texture and the unique salty flavor. All this sauce needs is some fresh cracked pepper.
So before you try any gooey stuff that passes for Alfredo sauce, you MUST try this recipe –
1/2 to 1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-1.5 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp or more crushed garlic optional
Cracked pepper to taste
Parsley sprigs or torn basil leaves for garnish
1/2 pound pasta – fettucine, penne, rigatoni or any other
1) Boil water in a large stock pot. Add salt and then add pasta. Do not add pasta until the water is boiling. The water should be at least 3-4 times the dry pasta.
2) In a saucepan – Melt butter and add garlic if using. Let the garlic infuse the butter on very low heat. The garlic should not be burnt.
3) Once the butter melts, and the garlic loses its rawness, add cream slowly. Bring to a slight simmer. Add pepper and turn off the heat.
4) Add the grated parmesan cheese and stir slowly to incorporate into the butter and cream. The heat will be enough to melt the cheese. Heat for a minute or two on a very low flame if needed.
5) Taste for salt and add a bit if needed.
6) As the pasta cooks to ‘al dente’ ( not Al ‘daante’ as shown on FoodFood) level, which means ‘almost cooked’, drain it and add to the sauce. Mix gently until the sauce coats the pasta evenly.
Tip – I generally mix a little bit of each and then add more pasta and more sauce gradually. This is because you don’t want the pasta to be soggy with too much sauce. Neither do you want the pasta to be dry without enough sauce.
7) Serve hot with a garnish of parsley or basil and more parmesan cheese on top.
8) Variations – Add vegetables such as steamed broccoli, peppers etc. according to your liking.
Pasta with Alfredo sauce is served!!! And you will be licking your fingers for sure!!
I have learned a lot from watching Food Network. Mostly because many chefs take pains to explain terms to their viewers. Many gourmet terms and cooking techniques have become second nature to us now because of this.
The concept of a dedicated food channel is very new in India, although we always had cooking shows. I remember how avidly I used to watch ‘Khana Khazana’ on Zee. A culinary revolution is sweeping the country, and people are hungry to try different things. But it really saddens me when celebrities do not take enough time to teach the right thing to their viewers. If you had to teach someone about a new cuisine, why not teach them the right thing? You could adapt it to local conditions later – or people will do it themselves out of necessity – but why not teach them the right way first?
Another concern is when any lingo or terms or basics are not explained. Take the example of Mr.Sanjeev Kapoor’s Alfredo Pasta episode. He asks the people to not overcook the pasta. Wouldn’t it be nice to explain WHY? All he says is – take care you don’t overcook it otherwise…well, just don’t overcook it — or something of the sort.
A similar error often repeated is using basmati rice for Risotto or using cooked rice to add to the sauce – sort of like a fried rice. This is Not what risotto is.
OK…I think I have made my point..what I really want is for you to try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Places in Pune to buy good Parmesan cheese – Dorabjee’s store in Camp and Tutto Bene Deli in Wanowrie or Koregaon Park!