Here’s a recipe for Easy Authentic Alfredo Sauce for pasta that I found in Marcella Hazan’s book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. It is a family favorite that takes less than 30 minutes to make! We love to add roast chicken and peas to this creamy pasta. Other additions like salmon and asparagus or steak and broccoli are also great variations.
Marcella Hazan’s Cream and Butter Sauce (all’Alfredo) from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is super fast to make and incredibly delicious to eat! Marcella Hazan has been credited with making authentic Italian cuisine accessible to the American cook. For me personally, her concise and poetic instructions transport me back to my good friend Nonna’s basement kitchen, where I first began to learn how to make authentic Italian food.
Here’s a quick little video I made to show you the process.
You’ll only need a few fresh ingredients to make Easy Authentic Alfredo Sauce: 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1 lb of pasta.
Note about Ingredients: One of the most important lessons to learn in cooking is the value of choosing the finest, freshest ingredients available for your recipe. There is no substitute for freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, the star ingredient in Alfredo Sauce. Its important to choose a piece that has “Parmigiano-Reggiano” imprinted on the rind; the verification of its authenticity. Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano will also have a very pleasing aroma. Avoid pieces that have only a faint scent and that appear to be dry in texture.
As an alternative, you could substitute grated parmesan cheese for Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the only parmesan you have is the common variety that has no expiration date in the shaker from your fridge, this recipe won’t taste nearly as good as it is intended to be. But it will still be a thousand times better than store bought jarred Alfredo Sauce! So go for it!
Easy and Fast to make:
When I say this meal is fast and easy to make, I literally mean it will take as long as it takes you to boil the pasta. The Alfredo Sauce itself takes just minutes to prepare. So get the water on the heat as soon as possible.
First Thing: Get the Water Boiling for the Pasta
Put 4 quarts of cold water into a tall pot and set it on high heat. Now, It’s time to start the Alfredo Sauce.
Start the Alfredo Sauce:
While you are waiting for the water to come to a boil, start making the Alfredo Sauce.
Put the butter and 2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream into a sauce pan and turn the heat on Medium-Low. Reserve the remaining 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream for use later in the recipe. Bring the butter and cream up to a boil, stirring continuously with a whisk until the sauce thickens. This should take about 1 minute. When the sauce is thick and creamy, turn off the heat. Then, check to see if the pot of water is boiling.
Back to the Pasta:
Wait until the water begins to boil and then add 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to the boiling water. Add the entire box of pasta to the boiling water and stir occasionally to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick together. You want it loose and freely moving around in the water. The pasta will take about 8-10 minutes to cook. Marcella Hazan advises taking the pasta out of the water just before its al dente. For me, that means maybe a minute before it seems ready. Taking the pasta out a bit early allows for the time the pasta will continue to cook while you mix it with the Alfredo Sauce. Taking the pasta out a minute or two before it is done will save your pasta from tasting overcooked.
Note on the Salt: It is very important to add enough salt to the pasta water. Per Marcella Hazan: a general rule of thumb is 1-1/2 Tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta. Salt adds necessary flavor to the pasta. Without it, the pasta will taste bland and no sauce will be able to cover up the mistake. So, even though it seem like a lot of salt, fill your palm with it and toss it in the water. You will be happy you did.
Note on Pasta Water: The starchy, salty water that is created when you boil pasta is the secret ingredient to Italian pasta dishes. So, don’t drain your pasta into the sink without saving a cup or two! It can be used to loosen up a sauce that has become too thick or just for a flavor boost. For this recipe, I use a pair of tongs and just transfer the pasta directly into the Alfredo Sauce. That way, I get some of that starchy, salty flavor in the dish.
Finishing the Alfredo Sauce:
When the pasta is just about done, turn the sauce back on low and transfer the pasta directly from the boiling water to the sauce pan. Quickly toss the pasta, making sure that all of the pasta is coated with the butter and cream.
Finally, add all of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, a little salt and pepper, a few gratings of fresh nutmeg, and the remaining 1/3 cup of heavy whipping cream and toss the pasta again, making sure to coat all of the pasta with the Alfredo Sauce. That’s it! Get ready to enjoy a great meal!
Use warm plates, and top each serving with more Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve Immediately! I hope you enjoy this recipe for Easy Authentic Alfredo Sauce!
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- ⅔ Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated, or use best parmesan cheese available
- Salt & Pepper
- Nutmeg, a few fresh gratings, or a few shakes from spice jar
- Place Butter and ⅔ Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream into a sauce pan on Medium-Low heat.
- Bring butter and cream to a boil.
- Boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously with a whisk, until sauce thickens.
- Turn off heat.
- Add to sauce, 1 lb of cooked pasta.
- Quickly toss the pasta, making sure that all of the pasta is coated with the sauce.
- Turn the heat back on to Low.
- Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano, a little Salt & Pepper, a few fresh gratings of Nutmeg, and the rest of the Heavy Whipping Cream to the sauce and toss the pasta again.
- Serve Immediately!
| “I believe with my whole heart in the act of cooking, in its smells, in its sounds, in its observable progress on the fire.” “…the emotional and physical pleasure deeply rooted in the act…” ~ Marcella Hazan, Preface to Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking |