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How to Thicken Alfredo Sauce

Written by admin on . Posted in food

how to thicken alfredo sauce

Alfredo sauce is one of those sauces that is just SO much better homemade. Even in the rare situation when I come home from the store with a premade jar, I always feel the need to doctor it up. But let’s get real – my family always knows when it’s not full-on homemade.

Since homemade Alfredo sauce is just superior to store-bought, it’s so worth it to take the time to learn to make it right. If the Alfredo is too thin, it’s drippy and doesn’t grab the pasta as you want it to.

And if it’s too thick, it can taste goopy–no one wants to bite into a juicy bit of pasta and find out it is the actually congealed sauce! The best Alfredo sauce is velvety thick and smooth. But even with practice, Alfredo sauce (which has only three basic ingredients) sometimes doesn’t cooperate and deliver the desired consistency.

Not to fear: there are myriad ways to thicken your Alfredo sauce. You can experiment with some different methods to see what works best for you. I would look at two main considerations:

  • Dietary preferences or restrictions: if you’re avoiding gluten, you won’t want to use the flour option. If you’re avoiding dairy, why are you reading this article? Just kidding! There are lots of delicious dairy-free recipes for Alfredo sauce. Most use cashews and nutritional yeast to make comfort food that vegans can happily enjoy.
  • What you have in your pantry: it’s more convenient and cost-effective to use what you already have in your cupboard. For one thing, you usually don’t know you need to thicken your sauce until you need to thicken your sauce NOW.

    In addition, you don’t want to spend extra money on a specialty thickening agent that you won’t be using regularly. That expensive specialty ingredient will sit in your cabinet well past its expiration date until you let go of the guilt of throwing it out. Go ahead.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of thickening, let’s go over a basic Alfredo sauce.

Alfredo sauce has three main ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese

Really, that’s it? You’re now wondering how your favorite Italian restaurant gets away with charging so much for pasta topped with a three-ingredient sauce. Ambiance. And they take care of the thickening and the cleanup.

For a pound of pasta, you’ll want to start with a stick of butter (½ cup), 1 cup (8 ounces) of heavy cream, and 1 cup (4 ounces) of Parmesan cheese*. You can season with some minced garlic or black pepper if you want.

* Note: You can use any kind of Parmesan, but freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano creates a superior sauce and is definitely worth the extra pennies.

Basically, you melt the butter, add in the cooked pasta, add the heavy cream and Parmesan, and toss until the pasta is coated with delicious goodness.

Pro Tip: If I serve my husband a plate of Fettuccine Alfredo and it doesn’t have a healthy portion of more grated Parmesan on top, he looks at me as if I have just arrived from another planet, so don’t be shy about adding more Parm.

Butter, heavy cream, Parmesan–calories, fat, calories, fat, calories, fat. YUM. If you happen to be counting calories or fat grams and you don’t want a whole army of them, you can definitely use lower-fat versions of the ingredients and still get a delicious sauce. It won’t be as thick and rich, but your pants will still fasten.

Thickening Methods

You’ll want to start with your sauce hot to successfully incorporate any of these thickening methods. Please be aware that unlike some sauces, Alfredo is not one that you can walk away from. Cream sauces need extra care, attention, and stirring to produce the result you want.

Add more heavy cream. This is a good option because it allows you to keep the integrity of the base ingredients. Whisk a little more heavy cream into the sauce (medium heat – you don’t want to scald the cream and wreck your sauce). Bring it to a simmer and it will slowly thicken.

It can take a lot of heavy creams to thicken a sauce, and since you’ve already used a cup, you’ll want to check your flavor to make sure the cream hasn’t masked the butter and cheese flavor.

Add more Parmesan. Again staying true to the original Alfredo recipe, adding more Parmesan will thicken the sauce and maintain the classic Alfredo flavor. As I mentioned before, Parmigiano-Reggiano is the only Parmesan I’ll use.

My family likes it on top of just about anything. Bonus: The heel of the cheese can be frozen and added to crushed tomatoes when you’re making a homemade red sauce (gravy!). My Italian grandmother taught me that trick.

Anyway, liberally grate some more Parm into the Alfredo to thicken it. The only caveat is that if you add too much, it will alter the consistency and may turn out stringy rather than creamy.

Reduce the Sauce. The third method that doesn’t add foreign ingredients (or any ingredients!) is reducing the sauce to make it thicker.

Watch your sauce carefully as you simmer it. Don’t let it boil and stir it regularly to keep it from burning or sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

As water evaporates, the sauce becomes more concentrated and thicker. Keep in mind that a sauce reduction will intensify the flavors and you may need to adjust your seasonings.

Add a different kind of grating cheese. You can grate some mozzarella or white cheddar cheese into your too-thin Alfredo sauce that is simmering over medium heat. Toss to incorporate the cheese and give it some time to thicken.

Considerations with this method include:

  • The possibility of stringy texture rather than the smooth and creamy one expected from an Alfredo sauce
  • A taste alteration. Mozzarella has a mild flavor so it should blend satisfactorily with the Parmesan. White cheddar won’t change the appearance of your sauce, but even a mild cheddar will affect the palate of the plate.
  • Add cream cheese. Cut a cream cheese brick into cubes and let it soften (it’s much easier to cube it before softening). Whisk cubes into the heated Alfredo sauce one or two at a time until you achieve the consistency you’re looking for. Go slow, it can take some time to thicken.

    As with the other cheese additions, add only as much as you need. Cream cheese has a distinctive flavor and it will change the taste of the sauce.

    Create a roux. A roux is a basic kitchen go-to and serves as the base for many sauces and gravies. A roux is super easy to make. Melt butter in a saucepan and
    And then whisk in flour at a 1:1 ratio until smooth.

    To thicken Alfredo sauce, whisk a little of the completed roux into the simmering sauce and incorporate it to get the desired consistency.

    Make a starch slurry. A starch slurry is a common method for thickening alfredo sauce. You can use cornstarch, flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, rice flour, or arrowroot flour, depending on what you have in your pantry and whether you have gluten sensitivities.

    Mix a little of your chosen starch with some cold water until you attain a smooth mixture. Then slowly whisk your slurry into the Alfredo sauce (which, as usual, is simmering at medium heat).

    Be patient when whisking into the sauce; if you add too quickly, you may over thicken the Alfredo. You’re adding a pure starch (albeit cut with water), and the starch will swell into a gel-like thickening agent when it’s heated.

    Add starch directly. Flour, cornstarch, arrowroot, potato starch, or even instant potato flakes can be added to the simmering Alfredo a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

    Smooth and slow addition is the key to this thickening method. If you’re not mixing the starch with water before adding it to the sauce, you risk lumps. With any starch addition, you may notice a flavor change.

    Add food gums. Xanthan gum and agar are popular food gums added as thickeners. The big benefit of the food gums is that they don’t affect the appearance or flavor of your sauce.

    You only need a small amount to thicken. Xanthan gum can be mixed directly into the simmering Alfredo, while agar should be mixed with liquid before adding it to the sauce.

    If you’re using xanthan gum, use .01-1% of the weight of your liquid. So if you have 16 ounces of sauce, use no more than one ounce of xanthan gum. Start with less and add until you get the desired thickness. The xanthan gum needs some elbow grease in the whisking.

    If you’re using agar flakes, use one tablespoon for each cup of liquid; if you’re using agar powder, use one teaspoon for each cup of liquid.

    Boil the agar into four tablespoons of liquid for 5-10 minutes and mix into the Alfredo sauce.

    Add egg yolks. Egg yolks are tricky because you have to cook them carefully. Remember that your Alfredo sauce is hot and eggs cook quickly. If you don’t whisk constantly, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.

    Before you add the yolk, put it in a bowl and add a little bit of the hot Alfredo sauce into the bowl with the yolk, whisking until the eggs are warm in the bowl. Then you can incorporate the yolk/sauce mixture into the sauce.

    Think of how you get used to the water by putting your legs in first, rather than jumping into a cold pool – you want to introduce the heat change gradually.

    Purée vegetables. Puréed vegetables are also a great thickener. A white vegetable like cauliflower won’t alter the color of your Alfredo sauce. You could also try jicama (although it’s pretty watery for thickening), parsnips, turnips, or even white carrots. The mild flavor of cauliflower will offer the least amount of taste alteration. Just mix it into your simmering Alfredo sauce.

    Make Beurre Manié. Beurre manié translates from French to kneaded butter. In this method, the butter and flour are kneaded together before adding to the Alfredo sauce.

    Knead equal parts flour and butter with your fingers or a fork until you get a smooth dough or paste.

    Make teaspoon-sized balls and add one by one to thicken the Alfredo sauce. Give the sauce time to thicken before adding another ball to avoid over thickening. Add more balls until your sauce is the perfect thickness.

What Does Foie Gras Taste Like?

Written by admin on . Posted in food

what does foie gras taste like

Foie gras, which means fat liver in French, is a controversial delicacy in French cuisine and is enjoyed around the world. The liver used in foie gras is duck or goose liver.

Foie gras is a popular splurge dish due to its unique taste and texture. It’s controversial because of ethical concerns

Flavor

Many people describe foie gras tasting like meat-flavored butter. Despite its rich, buttery taste, foie gras still feels delicate. Flooding your gustatory and tactile senses, foie gras is a multisensory experience.

The high-fat content of foie gras produces the buttery sensation inside your mouth. The texture is almost like a cross between butter and whipped cream.

Holding the tension of opposites, foie gras also offers a strong umami flavor. Umami is the Japanese term for meatiness; it is known as the fifth taste, along with bitter, salty, sweet, and tart.

Foie gras does have a liver taste, but it’s milder than the traditional liver you’re used to. Foie gras is smoother — it almost melts in your mouth — while the chicken liver is drier and has a grainy texture.

Variations in taste and texture

Preparation

Foie gras entier, cru refers to the whole (entier), raw (cru) duck or goose liver. You wouldn’t find foie gras entier, cru, at a restaurant. In this form, you will have to prepare it yourself, which involves removing the vein (careful because if you don’t do it correctly, you could ruin the liver), as well as cooking or curing it.

Foie gras mi-cuit is the typical delicacy you see served at restaurants. Mi-cuit means half-cooked; You’ll only find this in a restaurant (unless you make it at home from foie gras entier, cru) because the foie gras mi-cult is not preserved.

The foie gras mi-cuit is one of the milder liver tastes.

Foie gras entier is a whole liver or part of a liver that is sold in jars or tins. Foie gras entier is cooked in the container after being seasoned, usually with salt and pepper and cognac.

Bloc de foie gras avec morceaux is a pâté made with minced bits of intact liver. Morceaux actually means bits. It may have other ingredients added, but the percentage of foie gras is indicated on the container.

The higher the foie gras percentage, the more expensive the bloc de foie gras avec morceaux. And of course, the lower the foie gras percentage, the more the flavor will depart from a pure foie gras.

As you can imagine, the taste of a 98% bloc de foie gras avec morceaux will differ significantly from a 50% bloc de foie gras avec morceaux.

Bloc de foie gras is the lowest grade of foie gras, but still more decadent than your basic pâté because of course, it contains the sought after foie gras; in this iteration, it is just in paste form with no solid bits.

Even if you get the bloc de foie gras or another pâté de foie gras, remember that you don’t want to spread it. It’s meant to be enjoyed in small pieces and usually served with small pieces of bread or crackers and enjoyed in bites.

Foie gras is also prepared as a mousse, or parfait. In these preparations, a mold is made of the morceaux de foie gras and may have other flavors, such as truffles or wine, added.

As you can see from the wide variety of cooking and serving methods, the flavor and the texture of foie gras can vary greatly depending on the preparation.

Duck, duck, goose

Taste and texture will be different depending on whether you’re eating duck foie gras or goose foie gras. The duck foie gras has a lower fat content and a stronger taste, while the goose foie gras has a milder but more sophisticated taste and a higher fat content.

It’s difficult to find goose foie gras outside of France; most of the foie gras available is from duck throughout Europe and the United States.

Cooking method

If you sear, sauté, or fry foie gras, it changes the texture once again, as well as the flavor. These cooking methods result in a foie gras that resembles the taste and texture of the fatty part of the steak.

If you’re trying these cooking methods at home, be careful, with the high-fat content of foie gras, it won’t take much to melt the costly foie gras.

Starter or main?

Sometimes you’ll see foie gras as the main dish, but more often you’ll see it on a restaurant’s appetizer menu. At times, it’s added as a luxurious addition to steak, for velvety richness on top of meaty richness.

Because the taste of foie gras is unique, surrounding it with subdued flavors elevates and spotlights the foie gras.

Pairings

Bread, toast, or baguette is a great vehicle for foie gras. Dried fruit, jam, or grapes are also suitable accompaniments for foie gras.

It also goes well with salad, as long as the dressing doesn’t contain too much vinegar or bitter taste; foie gras needs a mild partner so it can be the star of the show.

If you’re looking for a wine pairing, choose a sweet wine, nice champagne, or a complex and fruity red. As with the salad, you should avoid a bitter wine or one that is too light. A treat as special as foie gras deserves a complex partner.

Pâté or not to pâté

Pâté is a general term referring to a dish with a variety of ingredients, one of which is traditionally some kind of liver. But it’s not necessarily made with foie gras. In fact, pâté simply means paste in French. Of late, the pâté preparation has expanded to showcase vegetables, seafood, and herbs.

You could make a pâté out of foie gras. A pâté must have at least 50% foie gras in order to be called pâté de foie gras.

Ethical concerns

The controversy around foie gras stems from the manner in which the delicacy is achieved.

The unique texture and flavor of foie gras come from the high-fat content of the liver. However, in order to achieve the desired fat content, ducks and geese are force-fed in a process known as gavage. Two to three times per day, the ducks and geese have a tube inserted in their throat and fed corn which has been boiled in fat.

As a result, enormous amounts of fat are deposited on the fowl’s liver, creating the fat content necessary for sensory reaction in your mouth.

Fatty liver is not a diagnosis you want to receive from your doctor, and it’s not healthy for ducks and geese, either. To achieve the desired fat content, ducks are force-fed for about 12 days, and slaughtered after 100 days; geese are force-fed for approximately 17 days and slaughter after 112 days.

Amazingly, the duck and goose liver created by gavaging results in a liver that is enlarged 6-10 times its normal size.

Animal rights activists have three main concerns with the foie gras production process:

  • Cruelty in force-feeding
  • Close quarters for ducks and geese, preventing free movement
  • Intentional diseasing of ducks and geese

Some countries have stopped the practice of gavaging and feed the fowl naturally and humanely; this more humane process, however, also affects the end result of the liver.

Due to the animal welfare concerns, a number of countries have banned the production and sale of gavaged foie gras. In Europe, only Belgium, Bulgaria, France, and Spain are permitted to gavage.

In the United States, California has a law banning the gavage method of force-feeding and also restricts foie gras from fowl raised with this method from being sold. New York is also close to banning this method.

Advocates of the traditional foie gras production maintain that because ducks and geese have no gag reflex, the force-feeding is not cruelty, and the fowl are unstressed and happy.

These advocates maintain that the treatment of geese and ducks is far better than other poultry and cattle, and that foie gras is an easy target because the industry is so much smaller and doesn’t affect the economy as much.

With these considerations, you might choose to consume foie gras that was produced in an ethical and humane manner without the image of a duck or goose being force-fed.

Summary

If you’re looking for a unique taste that duck or goose foie gras delivers. If you enjoy a gamey, flavor wrapped in a delicate casing, you’ll probably love foie gras. There are few culinary treats that can balance a velvety texture and complex umami flavor; it’s a party for your taste buds.

You have a number of texture choices for your duck or goose foie gras:

  • slices of the liver
  • tiny bits of the liver pressed into a mold
  • pâté paste of the liver

Whatever preparation you choose, foie gras is meant to be savored. For some, full enjoyment is possible only when ethical concerns have been addressed.

How Much Brisket Per Person?

Written by admin on . Posted in food

how much brisket per person person

Brisket is both an old standby and the latest trend. The traditional brisket served at holidays and family gatherings is a braised bundle of slow-cooked deliciousness.

Smoking a brisket outside over low heat has grown in popularity, as amateur barbecuers are producing smoky, sought after slices of beef with a crusty bark outside and tender joy on the inside. A well-smoked brisket is about as close as you can get to meat candy.

What is Brisket exactly?

Brisket is one of the tougher cuts of meat, coming from the pectoral muscles of a cow. If you think about your own pectoral muscles, you know that they connect the chest to the arm and shoulder.

Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise you to find out that the brisket has tons of connective tissue, explaining both the tough nature of this cut of beef and the long, low cooking time required for tender and juicy perfection.

Two cuts of Brisket

A whole brisket can weigh anywhere from 10-16 pounds and is referred to as the Packer’s cut. But brisket is often split and sold as two different cuts.

The first is the flat cut, which is what is usually used for the braised brisket; it is a leaner cut. This cut is also called the first cut.

The second is the pointcut (also known as the second cut or deckle cut), which is thicker and fattier, and what usually goes in your smoker or on the grill.

How much brisket is an appropriate serving size per person?

Well, how much brisket you need per person depends on which cut you’re using. For the flat cut brisket to be braised, butchers recommend about a half a pound per person.

The seminal cookbook Joy of Cooking gives a little more variance, with braised brisket recipes calling for 3 to 3 ½ pound cuts to serve 6-8 people or between ¼ -½ pound per person.

For the pointcut or the whole Packer’s cut that goes on the grill or in your smoker, you need to increase the amount of meat per person, as the fattier cut will shrink more as you cook it. In fact, with a Packet’s cut, you can expect to lose up to 50% of the meat’s volume during cooking, although 40% is probably an average loss.

The Joy of Cooking suggests a 4-5 pound roast for 10-12 servings or ¼ -½ pound per person. Topping off at ½ pound per person might be underestimating a bit, especially considering how delicious your brisket is going to be.

Most recipes call for an 8-10 pound brisket for 14-16 servings, or between a ½ -¾ pound per person. Barbeque aficionados aim even higher, recommending 1 pound of uncooked meat per person to allow for a 1/2 pound of cooked meat.

Remember, too, that overestimating the amount of meat (whether you’re braising or smoking) will hopefully leave you with some leftovers for sandwiches the next day.

Other Things to Consider

On the other hand, if you’re catering, ⅓ pound of cooked meat per person is a good plan. The guest list is set, you don’t need leftovers, and your business cost is a consideration.

Who’s eating? Again, if you’re feeding family members and close friends, you probably have an idea of who has a healthy appetite. You can adjust your amounts based on your guest list. Good eaters may need ½ -¾ pound of cooked meat per person.

Just remember that you want to double your calculation of uncooked to cooked meat to allow for the up to 50% shrinkage from the fat you’ll trim off and the moisture loss during the smoking process.

Also factor in any children that might be at your event. They will typically eat about half as much as an adult (note that for the purposes of calculating meat portions, teenagers count as adults.)

Are you serving any vegetarians? If so, you can adjust the amount of brisket you’ll need accordingly. You’ll also have to think of an alternative dish to serve them. Jackfruit and portobello mushrooms grilled up nicely and other plant-based meats have come a long way in recent years. You could also make veggie skewers.

Make sure to avoid cross-contaminating for your meatless friends. Scrub the grill before cooking for vegetarians, cook the meatless treats before the meat, and use a disposable grill topper.

What else are you serving? If you have appetizers, sides, salad, and/or bread, your guests will likely need less meat, especially if your sides are heavier, like potato salad, beans, or a mess of macaroni and cheese. Corn on the cob and watermelon slices also fill up a plate and a stomach.

If you have generous sides, you could get away with ¼ pound serving per person.

And if you’re serving a braised brisket with root vegetables and mashed potatoes, your guests will fill up fast enough that they will be satisfied with a smaller portion of meat.

If you have charcuterie platters, a warm spinach dip, or queso for an appetizer, guests probably won’t be starving by the time the brisket is served.

You may have something else planned as a main course. If you’re barbecuing, you might have a variety of meats: brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and sausage. Such an assortment would necessitate a different calculation – 1 ¼-1 ½ pounds per person total would allow for the bones in ribs and chicken.

And how about after the meal? What are you planning for dessert? If you have a rich or heavier dessert on the menu, or a dessert table, you’ll probably need less meat to satisfy your guests.

However, if that’s the case, you should consider displaying the desserts before serving the meal so that guests know to leave some room for sweet treats.

Alcohol: People tend to eat more when they drink, so if you’re tailgating, smoking at a campsite, or spending the day or evening on the patio with adult beverages, you may want to plan for larger meat portions.

Additionally, when guests are drinking, you’re probably talking about a longer party where people continue to snack on meat candy after they’ve digested and gotten a second wind.

When are you eating? At a luncheon, people tend to eat lighter, so you’ll need smaller portions per person than you would at dinner. But if you’re having a longer event in the afternoon, guests may snack throughout the day.

Therefore, you’ll need to consider the time of the meal as well as the length of the event.

What type of event are you having? If you’re having a formal sit down dinner, it’s easier to control portions and you can serve smaller portions per person.

If it’s an informal event and people are serving themselves, you should plan for larger portions of meat per person.

Cost. Brisket, which used to be one of the cheaper cuts of meat because it is such tough meat, is now one of the more expensive cuts of meat, all due to the growing popularity around meat smoking. Therefore, if you’re on a budget, you might consider going with smaller per-person portions and adding more sides.

Some hosts like to smoke up less expensive pork belly as the crispy burnt ends are delicious to snack on and can reduce how much brisket people serve themselves. Supplementing with other meats, like chicken, ribs, sausage, and pulled pork is another way to keep costs down. Cutting these meats into smaller pieces will encourage guests to sample all the offerings rather than settling in on one choice.

Time. Smoking a brisket is an investment of time and love. Depending on the size of your brisket, it will take anywhere from 12-20 hours to cook it, and if you’re bringing beforehand, factor in another 2-12 hours.

That’s a big commitment. So if you can manage it, cook some extra as it’s not a dish you can whip up any day of the week. You’ll be surprised by how versatile the leftover smoked goodness is: brisket tacos, brisket hash, warm brisket sandwich, brisket chili… and if you still have leftovers, you can freeze the brisket for up to 3 months.

There’s a lot to consider when deciding how much brisket you’ll need for each person you’re serving. So remember the equation is you will get ½ pound of cooked meat from roughly 1 pound of raw meat.

Keep in mind that depending on the circumstances, as we discussed above, you might end up needing anywhere between as little as ¼-¾ pound of cooked meat per person.

Whether you’re braising a traditional flat cut or smoking a whole Packer’s cut, you can feel confident that your family and guests will leave your table satisfied.

The Best Rosemary Rabbit Recipe You’ll Ever Try

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

Have you ever had rabbit? It may sound unenticing until you’ve had a rosemary rabbit recipe. This is the type of meal that my grandmother used to make and I’d always turn my nose up and hate the idea of eating it until I actually ate it. My recipe has perfected the different flavors of rosemary rabbit by braining rabbit in a rosemary, tomato, and white wine sauce.

The Best Walking Taco Casserole Recipe

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

One of the best meals of the last few years is the walking taco casserole recipe. Walking tacos became popular as more and more people take their lunch breaks on the go and need to walk to food trucks. But what if you aren’t on the go and you want those flavors? A walking taco casserole is the best option.

At Home Texas Roadhouse Chili Recipe

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

If you love Texas Roadhouse Chili but you want to make your own recipe, we have the copycat for you. It will help you to bring the taste of Texas Roadhouse into your own home without the extra calories and fillers. You can use whole ingredients that will make the entire meal healthier. It is also perfect for family meals or freezer meals for the wintertime.

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