Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tomato Alfredo Sauce

Confession time. I totally cheat at Alfredo sauce. I can't, for the life of me, make a decent true Alfredo sauce using cream, butter and cheese. I can't. I screw it up EVERY time. The consistency is perfect and then something changes chemically/physically when I add the cheese. I've tried every type of cheese I've ever seen/heard of going in Alfredo sauce - cheap, expensive, rare, doesn't matter. It all turns to a lumpy mess when I cook it. If y'all have suggestions on how NOT to screw up Alfredo, lemme know. That being said, this is my version. To me, it tastes similar enough to the real thing that I don't mind it, but if you know of a better "real" Alfredo, you're welcome to use it in exchange for mine.

Al-fake-o sauce
2 T butter
2 T flour
2-3 C heavy cream (milk can be used in a pinch, but it can curdle if you're not careful)
3/4 C Parmesan cheese (don't be skimpy and buy fake cheese. You'll regret it.)
¼ tsp garlic powder
pinch of basil (oregano or Italian seasoning work well, too)
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and sprinkle in the flour. Whisk together with the butter and let heat until the doughy consistency is gone and the roux returns to a somewhat soupy state. Let it brown a little while to get the raw flour taste out of it, ten minutes usually does the trick. Add the cream all at once, stirring constantly until the lumps are whisked out of it. Mix in the spices and let it come to a simmer. It will be extremely soupy at this point and that's okay. It's supposed to be. As it cooks over medium heat, the sauce will thicken to the right consistency. When you're ready to serve, stir in the cheese, a little bit at a time so it can melt. You can serve over hot pasta of your choice at this point or you can add the tomato-ey part. Also good with steamed broccoli or asparagus.

Now the tomato-ey part! (I love imaginary words, can you tell?) Anyway, I cook a lot in the winter, which means all spring and summer I've got a pantry and freezer full of food to use up. Remember those meatballs I froze last winter? I've still got 150 of them left. I also had some leftover spaghetti sauce that I needed to use up. A dish was born. A dish my finicky family won't touch, but I like it well-enough.

The Rest of the Ingredients
10-12 Fresh or pre-packaged meatballs (store-bought is fine, just make sure they're thawed completely)
½-¾ C leftover spaghetti sauce or your favorite store-bought sauce, any flavor
1 tsp fresh minced garlic (1-2 cloves)

I tossed about 10 meatballs in the food processor and let them spin until they were a ground-up, ravioli filler consistency. (There's another secret recipe of the day, kids!) You don't want them totally pureed, but chunky will do nicely. Once your Alfredo sauce has finished cooking, add the meatball mixture to the sauce along with your spaghetti sauce and garlic. You can substitute a can of Italian style diced tomatoes if you want a looser texture. I just used what I had on hand. You can also use Italian sausage instead of the meatballs. Again, I just used what was in my freezer.

Cook over medium heat (add extra cream or spaghetti sauce if it gets too thick) until the sauce is bubbly. Serve over hot pasta with steaming garlic bread.

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