Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Alfredo Sauce Is Not So Scary When You Cheat!

If you've read my blog, you know that I had to learn how to make "The Sauce" (Italians call it by several names, including marinara, gravy, etc.) when I got married. My husband was raised with traditional Italian food and home made everything. By his admission, I've mastered the tomato based variety of Italian sauce, but I use to by a little intimidated by Alfredo sauce. It contain lots of expensive ingredients and if you mess it up, either scorch it or curdle it, you have to throw it out. I've made it the old fashioned way once or twice, but it was labor intensive and had to be timed just right with the rest of the meal.
Then, I learned to make Bechamel sauce. It's basically a white sauce that is used in lasagnas and other pasta dishes, or over vegetables. The thing about Bechamel, it's the perfect base for Alfredo! So, instead of buying heavy cream, that I won't be able to use up before it expires, I've learned to make Alfredo with 2% milk and no stress! Here's the recipe, but don't tell anyone where you found it, because I pass it off without anyone knowing the difference!

Easy Alfredo Sauce

5 Tbsp Butter
4 Tbsp Flour
2 C. Whole or 2% Milk
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 to 1 1/2 C. Shredded Italian Cheese (I have used the store blend, or any combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and Asiago, depending on what's in my fridge)
Salt and pepper to taste (I say this because in my house, there's no such thing as too much pepper)

Start by melting the butter in a sauce pan over med-high heat. You should keep a small whisk handy to stir, and to avoid your butter burning. When the butter just starts to bubble, start whisking in the flour, one tablespoon at a time, until you have a roux, or a thick, creamy looking mixture. Add in the milk and bring to boil. You need to babysit the pan, because with milk, there is always a chance of boiling over. The reason you need to bring it to a boil is to help cook out the flour and starch taste before adding your cheeses. Reduce the heat to just below medium, stirring the sauce almost constantly. You'll notice it thickening up. Once you have allowed the sauce to cool a bit, enough that it is no longer bubbling, you can gradually add your cheeses. The important part here is that if the sauce is too hot, your cheese will curdle and leave hard little lumps instead of melting smoothly. You should whisk slowly, keeping the cheese moving in the sauce as it melts. Add in your garlic, salt and pepper and continue to cook until the flavors are well blended. You will want to test several spoonfuls until it is how you like it. For a less intense garlic flavor, you can add the garlic clove, cut in half, with the milk, then fish it out at the end. I like to throw in one more tablespoon of butter right at the end, just for an extra silky texture. Serve on your favorite pasta!