I recently discovered that the authentic method for making fettuccine alfredo comes from the use of four main ingredients: butter, cream, Parmesan cheese and pasta water. You simply add some of the leftover pasta water to a heated butter/cream mixture, let it cook down and thicken, and finish with some fresh Parmesan cheese. Seriously simple.
I’m not sure why it had never occurred to me that I should use the pasta water before. Not only is it convenient, it’s brilliant to boot. Adding the starchy liquid to your butter and cream will help the sauce to naturally thicken. Throw in a few other choice flavors and you’ve just made a fab dish that will rivel any processed box or bag mix you throw at it. It just goes to show that homemade meals don’t have to be complicated and time consuming.
I was excited to try this newly acquired knowledge out on my
resident guinea pigs family so I got to cooking. Of course, I couldn’t just leave it at plain ol’ alfredo, so I “Mexicanized” it up for a fun spin on a dinnertime classic.
Start out by boiling up about 8 ounces of noodles. You’ll want to salt your pasta water ahead of time. Just toss in a couple good pinches and your noodles will be all the happier. Trust me on this one.
While the noodles are boiling, cook up the Mexi end of things. Start out with a bit of onion and garlic.
While that’s cooking along, cube up some chicken and sprinkle it with a barrage of spices.
Add the chicken into the pan with the onions and garlic. It’s starting to look mighty fine if I do say so myself.
Finish off the Mexi mixture with a can of diced green chilies.
Set the chicken mixture to the side and grab up a new pan for the alfredo sauce. To said pan, add a little butter and cream. Let it cook down on medium heat for about five minutes and then add in a bit of the pasta water. Cook down again and repeat the process. Your sauce should start to get a nice creamy texture to it. Here’s mine with the cheese going in. And yes, I already salted and peppered it. I just couldn’t stop myself.
With the prep steps completed, all that’s left is to combine everything back together again. First up, toss the noodles into the fettuccine sauce. When that’s finished you’ll dump in the chicken mixture. Finish the whole thing off with the addition of a couple tablespoons of fresh pico de gallo. Just because.
And just like that, it’s time to eat. Grab up a plate and a fork and get ready for a delightful dinner time treat.
What’s your favorite way to make alfredo sauce? I can certainly tell you what mine is.
Before I sign off, I want to mention that Cooking Light is on the hunt for the 2012 Trailblazing Chef People’s Choice Award for Best Neighborhood Restaurant Chef. Do you have a favorite local hangout that you couldn’t live without? How about the one meal time dish that keeps you coming back again and again? If you know a local restaurant or chef that consistently makes your palate sing; who’s absence would surely leave a culinary hole in the community, nominate them now. They could find themselves featured in the November issue of Cooking Light and on cookinglight.com. Entries are being accepted through May 31st so be sure to stop by and drop a vote for your favorite today!
Yield: 5 Adult Sized Portions
Total Time: 45 min
8 Oz. Dry Pasta
1 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, Chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Chicken Breasts, Cubed
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1 4 Oz. Can Diced Green Chiles
3 Tbsp Butter
1/2 Cup Cream
2-3 Tbsp Pasta Water
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Pico de Gallo
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Fill a large pot with water and salt generously. Bring to a boil and cook noodles to desired softness.When done, reserve about 1/4 cup of the remaining pasta water.
In a large saucepan, heat up the oil and then add in the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Toss cubed chicken with cumin, salt and pepper and drop into the saucepan.
When the chicken is fully cooked, mix in the green chiles and set to the side.
To a separate sauce pan, add in the butter and cream on medium heat. Let reduce for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in a tablespoon of the reserved pasta water and continue to cook and reduce for another 2-3 minutes.
Repeat the process until you have the desired amount/consistency of sauce.
Add in the Parmesan cheese. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Toss the finished noodles in the alfredo sauce. When combined repeat with the chicken mixture.
Finish off the pasta with 1/2 cup of fresh pico de gallo.
Serve with a dollop of guacamole and a couple hunks of fresh tomato on top.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 464.4, Total Fat 20.9 g, Saturated Fat 11.9 g, Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g, Monounsaturated Fat 6.3 g, Cholesterol 127.7 mg, Sodium 316.9 mg, Potassium 313.2 mg, Total Carbohydrate 37.1 g, Dietary Fiber 1.1 g, Sugars 0.0 g, Protein 31.6 g