Let me share a story with you. I’m 7 years-old and in Rome. Vespas are zipping in and out of traffic and I’m STARVING. Me and my family walk into a restaurant, and the smells of Italian cooking drown out the noise of the street. We sit down and I order the Chicken Alfredo. I take my first bite. And suddenly nothing else matters.
Welcome to the moment that I fell in love with chicken alfredo! So grab those chickens, boil that pasta water and start grating that parmesan, because today we’re becoming a little more gourmet food independent by tackling DIY lemon garlic alfredo!
Lemon Garlic alfredo consists of pasta and alfredo sauce with lemon and garlic. I’m betting you know what pasta is, so let’s talk about the alfredo sauce. My most basic alfredo sauce it is a combination of butter, heavy milk cream, and parmesan cheese that often features garlic. Pro tip: while cheese is the emulsifier in the original recipe and works very well (especially with lots of cheese!), should your sauce need to be a little thicker, make a slurry with cornstarch (mix the cornstarch in cool/room temperature water) and then mix it into the sauce.
For those of you who are afraid of garlic, let me tell you plain and simple that you just don’t need to be! All the same, there are two little tricks will keep the garlic mild and balanced. First, make sure that you select larger cloves — they have a smaller concentration of the aromatic compound responsible for garlic taste and are easier to dice and mince (which leads to more even distribution of said aromatic compound). Secondly, the most powerful part of the garlic is right in the center where it sometimes starts to sprout. Carefully take your knife and remove that part if you’re particularly garlic-averse. Your alfredo should (and will!) have a smooth texture and taste large and warming without smothering everything else, whether you keep the garlic strong like the food gods intended or not. Just be careful not to overcook the garlic. It’ll taste bitter and burnt. No bueno for gourmet culinary independence.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little more upscale you could add mint to cool and sweeten, or basil to freshen, or nutmeg to make the whole thing feel lighter, or, well, you get the idea.
Why should I DIY it?
One thing is for sure — gaining gourmet food independence ends up being a lot cheaper than buying from a restaurant. A single portion will run you between 9 and 11 dollars at the most common national chains. With 11 dollars, you can easily make a fettucine alfredo for 4 at home giving everybody just over a pound of food. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look.
4 pounds pasta noodles (prefereably fettuccine, but you can make do with any) — 4.84 dollars
Heavy Cream — 1.5 dollars (for the portion you’ll be using)
Butter — .50 (for the amount that you’ll be using
Garlic — .30 (even less for the amount that you’ll use)
Parmesan cheese — 3 dollars (for the amount that you’ll use)
Mushrooms — .4
Lemons — .4
That’s 10.94 for 4 people (though these are based on national averages — your mileage may vary slightly). Expand the ingredient list to cover some garnish and other extras and you still come in at 13 dollars for 4 people. ‘Nuf said.
Beyond price, making it at home creates a memorable experience, gives you the ability to completely customize your meal and has the bonus of impressing everybody you know. Emotional experiences like those define food just as much as taste does. You’ll gain gourmet culinary independence, and won’t have to depend on someone else to make your food.
DIY Lemon Garlic Alfredo
Serves: 4 giant portions, 8 normal portions
Warming alfredo sauce sticks to thick fettuccine and is topped with browned, moist and savory mushrooms.
- 4 pounds fettuccine pasta, preferably homemade, but store-bought will do
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 clove garlic (2 if you're a fanatic)
- 1 crimini mushroom
- 2 baby bella mushrooms
- 2 cups parmesan
- (opt.) mint, parsley or nutmeg for garnish and to be mixed into the alfredo
- Place pan over medium heat and melt butter in the pan
- Dice garlic and slice the mushroom while waiting for butter to come up to temp (try not to let it warm for more than 5 minutes without checking on it)
- Once the butter has warmed, put the garlic and mushroom into the pan and stir until you can smell the garlic strongly (but don't let the garlic burn).
- Stir in heavy cream into pan
- Once well melded, stir in parmesan into alfredo and season if necessary
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil
- As soon as the water is boiling put the fettuccine in the pot and let cook for roughly 5 minutes
- Stir pasta into alfredo for the last minute or two of cooking and add up to 1 cup of water from pasta if necessary to get the alfredo on all the noodles
- Top with garnish if desired
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