This is another dish I learned when I started cooking. My Mama used to make it every few weeks or so, and it was always such a crowd-pleaser. It was created in Rome and named after the restaurant it came from – Alfredo alla Scrofa – and was simply cheese and butter. It has evolved a little since then, and once I began cooking to impress (mostly women), it became the obvious choice. This is another ‘simpler is better’ dish with very few, very excellent ingredients.
The most important ingredient in this is the Parmesan, and believe it or not, the Kraft shaker isn’t going to cut it on this one. In my opinion Parmisiano-Reggiano is the only way to go. I have even learned to stay away from Padano – it is oily and carries less flavour. Parmesan is a hard cooked cheese made from raw cows milk in the Parma region of Italy. The name is protected by Italian and European Law so that only cheese from that region can bear the name ‘Parmisiano-Reggiano’. Naturally you should be prepared to pay for it, but take solace that it will go a long way.
Get a pot of salted water boiling and add the pasta. When that goes in you should start your sauce in a deep frying pan. Start with about 1/4 cup of butter in a pan on medium. To be certain it won’t burn, I always cut it with a tsp of olive oil – this will raise the smoking point of the butter ensuring you won’t burn it. Add about 4 cloves of chopped garlic to the butter and saute until there is the slightest bit of brown color on it. If you burn the garlic or butter then just start over because the sauce is already ruined – trust me, I’ve done it several times! Before the garlic burns, add roughly a 3/4 cup of whole whipping cream, yes the fattest one available… its friggin’ Alfredo, get over it! Once the cream starts to boil with little bubbles in the middle of the pan add about 3/4 cup of finely grated Parmesan. Once stirred in and melted, the sauce is complete. On this round I added garlic-butter-sauteed shrimp which takes about 90 seconds in its own pan, then added once the sauce is finished. Other options are chicken or mushrooms for the Veggies. If the pasta isn’t ready yet, then pull the sauce off the heat until it is. When serving pasta, the proper method it to always pull the pasta directly from the pot into the sauce – none of this sticky overcooked pasta on the table with a pot of sauce. This ensures that the pasta isn’t dry and you can still adjust the sauce once the pasta is added. This sauce can sometimes be a little too thick and in that case add a ladle of pasta water to the pan, it will loosen the pasta and make it silky and smooth, not sticky and stodgy.
In the end I decided this isn’t the best date food. Too much garlic and too heavy for apres-dinner activities like…. badminton and bocci-ball. Still it is super tasty and one that you’ll add to the regular rotation. Enjoy!
ps. I’m really happy with the last photo on this one.