The Ultimate Comfort Food: How to Make Creamy Pasta Alfredo

Published on 01/20/2014 by

comfort food Pasta with Alfredo Sauce
By Christine Coughlan

Pasta with rich and creamy Alfredo sauce has to be one of the most decadent, indulgent - and gratifying - comfort foods going. Pure butter, heavy cream and savory Parmesan cheese are melted together, blended into perfectly-cooked al dente noodles and piled high in a delectable mound. A generous dusting of fresh-cracked black pepper is the crowning touch. Mmmm. What could be better, right? If you're in the mood for a rich taste treat, pasta Alfredo hits the spot. To boost the nutritional value of this dish, simply add fresh, seasonal veggies and lean protein such as grilled chicken or shrimp. However you like your Alfredo, it's a scrumptious serving of pure culinary joy.

The Back Story to This Comfort Food...

Legend has it that pasta Alfredo originated in Rome in 1914 by a restaurateur by the named of Alfred Di Lelio. His version, originally created for his pregnant wife, was a much simpler dish using just three high-quality ingredients: butter, Parmesan cheese and fresh black pepper. The hot pasta and a splash of the starchy pasta water would melt the butter and cheese and form a simple but delicious dish. He eventually opened a restaurant in New York which is where the Italian-American version, made with cream, came to be famous. In Italy, it is still made with just butter and cheese.

The pasta Alfredo we know today is a rich dish often made with garlic and shallots and the addition of heavy cream, crème fraîche, cream cheese, or even a béchamel sauce. There are a wide variety of recipes and cooking methods to choose from.

This recipe follows Alfredo Di Lelio's simple approach but adds enough heavy cream - and that essential splash of starchy pasta water - to achieve the rich, dense, velvety consistency that is so indispensable to the modern dish.

Ingredients: Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a side dish

· 1 pound of pasta. Fresh fettuccine, tagliatelle or linguini is ideal.

· 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter

· 1 small shallot, minced (optional)

· 2 cloves garlic, minced

· 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream or whipping cream

· 2 cups Parmesan cheese, FRESHLY grated

· A generous handful of FRESH Italian parsley, washed, dried and rough chopped. (Reserve a few sprigs for garnish)

· Salt and plenty of FRESH-cracked black pepper

Instructions

1. Put a large, deep pot of cold water on to boil. (Use at least 4 quarts or liters per pound of pasta.)

2. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add 2 heaping tablespoons of salt and drop in the pasta.

3. Bring the water back to a boil stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

4. Cook the pasta according to the package or until just al dente (just firm to the bite).

5. If adding raw or frozen veggies, add them 2 minutes before the pasta is done and drain them all together. This will slow the cooking process so check the pasta carefully before draining.

6. As the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

7. Add the minced shallot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring gently.

8. Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until fragrant. (don't let the garlic brown or burn or it will become bitter!)

9. Add in the cream and stir together. Heat the cream sauce until it is just bubbly around the edges. Don't allow it to boil! Add half of the cheese and stir to blend as it melts. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat once hot.

10. A minute before the pasta is done, carefully reserve a half cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside.

11. Drain the pasta in a colander and add it back into the hot pot, off the heat. Add in the cream sauce. Use a spatula to scrape the edges of the saucepan to get every last drop of deliciousness!

12. Toss the pasta and cream sauce together until the strands are completely coated. Add half of the remaining grated cheese and blend together.

13. Add the reserved pasta water, a splash at a time, to smooth out the sauce to a rich, creamy satiny consistency.

14. Add the fresh chopped parsley, toss quickly and plate. Top with the chicken or shrimp if using.

15. Garnish with a generous amount of fresh-cracked black pepper, the remaining grated cheese and a few sprigs of parsley. Serve immediately.

A dish of pasta Alfredo is the ultimate experience of la dolce vita, the sweet life, so be sure to eat slowly and savor each and every bite. Appreciate the exquisite "mouth feel" of the al dente pasta, the creamy, garlicky sauce and the bite of the fresh-cracked pepper. Perfetto!

Buon appetito!

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Christine Coughlan is the publisher of a niche web site on pasta - MyFavoritePastaRecipes.com, your one-stop resource for pasta recipes, ideas, how-to and more! Using fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients - and a bit of care - these quick and easy recipes go together in no time at all and are as delicious to look at as they are to eat. We eat with our eyes first and this is true comfort food! You'll also find fun, how-to videos to show you the process, health and nutrition articles to keep you informed, and culinary tours to spark your imagination. From gathering your ingredients to garnishing your plate, you'll be serving up pasta like a seasoned pro in no time.
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