Friday, April 11, 2008

Alfredo Secrets!

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One of my indulgences when I'm dining at an Italian restaurant is ordering fettuccine alfredo. I never seem to manage pulling it off consistently at home from scratch... and when compared to the restaurant versions, mine just doesn't come out the same. Until now... and its better!

I've been on a cookbook kick and here's another recipe I tried from Cooking at Home With America's Test Kitchen (2006). The result was a silky, creamy cheese sauce that didn't glop up. I added some chicken and asparagus to round out the dish... and it was perfect!

Another note is that time and temperature matter. The temperature of your serving bowls should be warmed (No wonder the plates at the restaurant are always hot when I order fettuccine alfredo!). According to ATK, serving the alfredo in warmed bowls helps to retain its creamy texture. Also, this dish must be served immediately because it does not hold or reheat well. Here is the recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo:
Cooking at Home With America's Test Kitchen
page 177

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh fettuccine
( I used dried taglieattelle pasta)
1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1. Bring 1 cup of the heavy cream and the butter to a simmer in a 3- to 4- quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. While the cream reduces, bring 4 1/2 quarts water to a rolling boil. covered, in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using a ladle or heatproof measuring cup, scoop about 1/2 cup boiling water into each serving bowl; set the bowls aside to warm. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the pot of boiling water; cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

3. Meanwhile, return the cream mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low and add the pasta, Parmesan, and nutmeg to the cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing the pasta with tongs to combine, until the cheese is melted, the sauce coats the pasta, and the pasta is just al dente, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water; the sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as the pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty the serving bowls of the water; divide the pasta among the bowls, tossing the pasta to coat well with the sauce. Serve immediately.

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