A Little Bit Nervous

Here’s what I made the other night for supper.

In case you can’t read my chicken scratch, it’s a recipe for Alfredo sauce.

For some reason I’m a little nervous talking about Alfredo sauce. I have a feeling that chefs and real cooks are particular about sauces and that there is a very particular way in which they make an Alfredo sauce. And I don’t know the right way. I’m probably doing it all wrong, and when a chef sees this recipe, he’ll gasp and start hyperventilating because I neglected to mention that you have to add freshly-cracked black pepper. Or something. So that’s why I’m kind of anxious about sharing this recipe.

But now that I made that little disclaimer, I’ll shrug off all my inhibitions and tell you how it’s done. “Here’s how you make Alfredo sauce, people! It’s my way, or the highway!”

Whew! That’s better.

Alfredo Sauce
I got the recipe from my recipe box and I haven’t a clue how it got there. (I mean, I put it there, but I don’t know where I got the recipe from which I copied mine.)

My recipe calls for 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup Romano cheese, but I just do all Parmesan and then throw in some more for good measure. You can add other cheeses, too, but Parmesan is really, really good. I have also added creme fraiche before, with good results.

This recipe is supposed to be enough for one pound of cooked pasta, but I often double the recipe because some leftover sauce is great: add it to macaroni and cheese, put it on pizza, serve it over baked potatoes, spoon it into a lasagna, dish it over cooked, chopped-up, chicken, or serve it all up at once and make your one-pound of pasta swim in it.

3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces (1 cup) cream
½ to 1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 egg yolk, beaten
More grated cheese for sprinkling over top, if you wish

Skim the cream from a jar of milk, or buy cream from the store. I don’t know if it matters if you use the heavy whipping cream or regular cream or half and half (just don’t use milk, unless you want to be a cheapskate), so experiment and see what you get. (Yes, I used the extra quarter cup of cream. I’m not very exact with my measurements, and I do love cream.)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Add the cream and whisk well. Heat it over medium-low heat, or medium heat—you just don’t want to boil it.

Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg. I like to grate mine fresh; it’s simple and fun to do, so don’t be intimidated.

I add about this much (maybe 1/4 teaspoon?):

Now stir in the cheese.

In a separate bowl, temper the egg yolk with some of the hot cream mixture, by adding a little of the cream mixture to the beaten egg and whisking it well. Then dump the tempered yolk into the cream mixture and stir well.

At this point, your sauce is done, but I added a couple basil cubes (last summer I whirled basil and olive oil together in the blender and froze the paste in ice cube trays), because I love basil.

Serve over hot fettuccine noodles. Or anything else that will hold still long enough for you to dump the sauce on top of it.

Eat with gusto.

(I hope that picture didn’t spoil your appetite. I just wanted to drive home the point that we really like the sauce.)


  • Marie M.

    Be still my heart. I was going to "tsk, tsk" the basil addition, then stopped, looked and said, "mmmm" looks good. Yes, you must add a goodly amount of freshly ground pepper. Well at least I do. And my recipe is exactly like yours, minus the fresh milk cream. You lucky you.

  • Anonymous

    A few months ago I bought my first whole nutmeg nuts, or whatever you call them. I’m loving grating that stuff into things!


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