When you toss hot pasta with butter and cheese, the cheese and butter quickly melt and combine to form a rich, creamy sauce. While the original recipe for alfredo sauce used only butter and cheese, many recipes require cooking the ingredients on the stove top, combined with heavy cream for extra richness. The cream also thickens the sauce so it coats the pasta completely. The cream, butter and cheese in alfredo sauce separate and congeal fairly quickly, so the pasta dish must be eaten quickly to keep them combined.
Things You'll Need
- Wire whisk
- Parmesan cheese
- Wooden spoon
- Hot plate
- Hot pasta
- 2 forks
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The amount of butter to use is really up to you, as it varies so greatly with different recipes. You might prefer a lighter alfredo sauce with only a few tablespoons of butter, or you can melt a whole stick -- 8 tablespoons.
Add heavy cream to the butter to taste. The amount of cream also depends on your preference, ranging anywhere between 1/2 cup to 2 cups, depending on the richness desired in the sauce.
Whisk the cream and butter to combine. Butter has a higher fat content with a minimum of 80 percent fat when compared with cream, which has only 30 percent to 38 percent fat, depending on the type of cream. Just as melted butter rises on the surface of water and solidifies as it cools, some separation naturally occurs between cream and butter. A whisk forces the butter and cream to combine, but do not whisk too much or you'll make whipped cream.
Stir in shredded Parmesan cheese with a wooden spoon until melted and incorporated in the fat-and-cream mixture. Season to taste, using spices such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Stir the mixture constantly to keep the ingredients together, right up until you serve it over pasta or other food.
Place hot pasta directly from the pan of water on a heated plate. You can preheat the plates in the oven. Hot plates and hot pasta keep the butter and cheese melted, but they solidify rapidly if added to a cold plate of chilled pasta. Alfredo sauce is most commonly served over fettuccine pasta, but you can also serve it over hot meat or vegetables.
Ladle the hot alfredo sauce over the pasta or other food. Toss the pasta completely with two forks until well coated with the creamy, cheesy sauce. Serve immediately so the pasta and sauce are still hot and not congealed.
Tips & Warnings
- Stir the sauce before adding it over the pasta, meat or vegetables if the ingredients have separated in the pan. Stir as often as needed to keep the cream, butter and cheese combined. A layer of fat resting on top of the sauce indicates separation, which means you need to stir the sauce.
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