Alfredo. It takes me back to many, many moons ago. I haven’t made alfredo in so long I don’t even know when the last time was. Pasta was not featured on my menus at work, I dont eat it all that often at home for some reason and I would no more order that when out than a pig would fly out of my ass. Pasta I can do at home easy, even if I dont often. And for the record I have NEVER had a pig fly out of my ass.
Why would I never order an alfredo when out, you ask? Well because it appears that a crap ton of people have NO IDEA what an alfredo sauce is. The truth? Alfredo started at one restaurant in Italy, is not a sauce they even acknowledge as a “thing” and it is, pretty much, an American creation. The original Italian version, well closest thing to it, was homemade noodles, triple cream butter and aged parmesan. Round these parts half the time its a thick, often rouxed, under-seasoned, over cheesed, hawt mess; the other half of the time its an over garliced, under-seasoned, runny, flat mess that tastes like milk. Uh no thanks. I am not paying someone to make me a crappy dinner, know what I mean? Good alfredo is easy, as some of the best things are, and I will show you how!
Somewhat Related: if you have no clue what triple cream butter is do yourself a solid and find the brand Plugra; its the most common brand available in the states. I know they have it at Market District. Let it soften to room temp and smear it on crusty bread w a sprinkle of sea salt. Trust me. Butter heaven. I never lie about butter.
The centerpiece of dinner? Homemade pasta. Sounds hard, really isn’t. From start to finish, including time to let the dough rest, it probably took me about an hour plus to make over 2# of fettucini. Granted, I have lots of practice, but I use an old school hand cranked pasta roller to make my noodles and mix my dough by hand. Yes, there are other, more complicated machines that can mix, sheet & cut or extrude pasta, I do not have, nor do I want, any of these unitasker machines. I feel about pasta making machines the same as I feel about bread making machines…whats the point? Sure it is convenient, but I became a chef because I like to create food from ingredients, those styles of machines make me feel like I am cheating.
This recipe will feed 4 people with left overs. You can also just not cook off all the pasta if you need/want to make less. Let the un-cooked pasta dry completely and store it in a baggie. There is no secret to drying pasta other than laying it out so it dries completely and not in clumps. This pasta is more delicate than the dried you buy at the store, so be gentle with it or you will end up with busted ass noodles.
Since this is another full meal post I wrote it with some real time instructions factored in so you get all the stuff to the table at once as conveniently as possible. The night’s menu: Homemade Fettucini with Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, Caesar Salad, Crusty Bread.
The Pasta great base recipe for all pasta, not just fettucini.
- 3 cups Semolina Flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- 4 each Whole Eggs
- 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Tbsp Water
Put the semolina and salt in a bowl and mix up to distribute the salt. Mix all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl with a fork until evenly combined. Make a well in the center of the semolina, dump in the wet and mix until it forms a dough ball with a wooden spoon. It will look & feel, well, kind of weird. Semolina isn’t like AP flour, so it doughs up differently.
Once it is a dough dump it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured counter and knead it for a 3-4 minutes. It will start to feel firm, dry and somewhat elastic and the outside will get smooth. You dont want to add a ton of AP flour to it and the oil in the dough will stop it from really sticking to much so easy with the flour. When its done divide it into 6 flattened disks, put them on a plate or something and walk away for about half an hour to let the dough rest. This step is IMPORTANT, skip the rest and your pasta will be tough and really challenging to roll. Do your prep for the rest of dinner while its relaxing.
When it has rested set up the machine. All of the ones I have used have a dial to control thickness that goes from 7 to 1 w 7 being the thickest. Also attach the cutting piece, you will cut the noodles as you sheet the dough out.
You will start with machine kneading it 4 times before sheeting it out to the right thickness for cutting into noodles, sheet it out to the final thickness, cut sheets to the desired length then cut into fettucini. The only step not pictured is the cutting of the final sheeted piece, you will cut it in half before making it into noodles.
You will take each dough ball from start to finish one at a time until you are through all 6 and let them lay on the racks or dries until you are ready to boil it off. I prefer my noodes to be more toothsome, so I roll to 4, if you like them more delicate roll to 2 or 3. You will need to be more careful with the thinner sheets and may need to cut into 3 instead of half before cutting into noodles.
This recipe for pasta is awesome for ALL kinds. If you are using it to make a filled pasta, like ravioli, sheet the dough to 3 or 4 and go to town!
Alfredo w Chicken & Broccoli
- 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1.5-2# Chicken Tenderloins, cut in half
- salt & pepper to season the chicken
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 4 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 cups Heavy Cream (no, you cannot substitute a lighter cream IMO)
- 6oz Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese (also like asiago, fontina or a blend)
- salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
- pinch of Fresh Ground Nutmeg (preground ok, I microplane from whole)
- 1 head Broccoli, broken down into florets & blanched (I cheat & blanch in the pasta water. Will make a little green but not enough to matter or change the pasta color)
Put a pot of salted water on to boil, about a gallon for the pasta you have made. If you opt to go with dried pasta you will want a pound plus for the amount of sauce and follow the package directions for al dente.
While the water comes to a boil place a large, non-stick pan on the stove over medium high heat. When hot add the olive oil and allow to heat. Season the chicken tenders and sear on both sides to get some color. You may have to do this in batches, as they are done move them to a plate and hold until later. They will not be fully cooked, this is totally ok, they will finish cooking later.
When the chicken is seared add the butter straight to the pan and swirl around to melt. Add the garlic and sweat over medium heat until it smells sweet. Make sure not to brown the garlic at all. If the pan is too hot move it off the heat until it isnt. If you burn the garlic start over.
Once the garlic is cooked add the cream and bring to a heavy simmer. Season with some salt, fresh ground pepper and the nutmeg – easy on the salt until you taste it post cheese addition. Reduce the cream by half stirring occasionally. While the cream reduces make your salads and put them in the fridge.
When the cream has reduced by half and thickened add the cheese and stir in with a whisk – be gentle in the non-stick. Bring back to a simmer and make sure all the cheese is melted in. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as needed with more salt & pepper.
Add the chicken tenders and blanched broccoli to the sauce and mix it all in so its all evenly coated. Reduce the heat – you won’t want it to reduce anymore or it will be too thick. If, by chance, it gets too thick add more cream. This is going to finish cooking the chicken & broccoli.
While that is working drop your pasta into the boiling water and stir and put your crusty bread in the oven to toast. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until it is al dente, and drain well into a colander.
If I were making 1 meal I would toss the pasta in the sauce, for this quantity that really isn’t feasible. Pile the pasta on a large serving platter and pour the sauce over top. Garnish with more grated cheese, get your bread sliced down and you are ready to go!
Paired with some crusty bread and a crunchy salad you have one hell of a Sunday Supper!
Chef’s Note: If you don’t have a pasta roller the dough can be rolled & cut by hand, this style of pasta is known as tagliatelle. Roll the dough balls out with a small amount of flour THIN, like 1/8″, roll up like you would a cinnamon roll and use a sharp knife to cut into 1/4″-1/2″ thick strips then shake out to separate the noodles. Hold on a pasta drier or rack same as you would the fettucini. You would knead the dough by hand for 2x as long using this method since the machine kneading method is wicked this way.