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February 13, 2008

Alfredo Sauce With the Mix Master


Here is a definitive statement if you cannot properly mix, you will never be a good cook. You may know all there is to know about the proper application of heat, and you may understand with great depth the value of freshness. But, at the heart of food the greatest utility is found in the ability to properly introduce ingredients together.


Mixing leads to mixing, which often leads to additional mixing.


Our example starts with steamed fresh asparagus. No doubt this raises a red flag. How does one put down the value of freshness, and start with freshness? The answer is that no one put down the value of freshness, but only placed it second to the ability to mix things together.


The asparagus must be steamed ahead of time to soften it up for other, greater things . . . namely an Alfredo sauce.


Herein, we begin the lesson on mixing. You make an Alfredo sauce by melting butter and mixing into it some heavy cream. Make sure the two are properly mixed, because this is the base of your sauce.


When properly stirred together, we have yet more mixing to do. We minced some garlic and chop some fresh parsley and add both of those. Finally, as you stir with a whisk, add Parmesan cheese.


Some suggest that fresh Parmesan cheese holds the key to Alfredo sauce. They are wrong. The key is whisking the cheese into the sauce, and here is why.


There are times when you can add all of your ingredients and then begin the process of stirring.


That is not true with a sauce involving cheese. Done improperly, what results is a gooey island of cheese in the middle of a sea of garlic-infused cream. In some places, that might be considered haute cuisine, but people never talk about them for obvious reason.


Stir together until thoroughly mixed, and still warm. Once created, stir into it your steamed asparagus. Include a little of the juice to help spread the flavor throughout. It will add a greenish tinge to your Alfredo sauce, which will perhaps alarm anyone whose expectations of added color is the green of chopped parsley.


Once your asparagus Alfredo sauce is thusly prepared, it is ready for application to actual pasta.


Served over nothing but pasta, it is enough to stand as a meal in itself. But, here we take one more twist. Invoking the pasta rule of proportionality, we serve it over hot penne and also thawed imitation crab.


You might ask yourself why not mix the imitation crab into the Alfredo sauce while it is heating.


The answer to that is that heat unravels imitation crab, and you wish it to remain as whole as possible. So you add it at the end, where the dangers of unraveled imitation crab are minimized.


We have mixed, and then we mixed. And, at the end of things, there is a final act of mixing turning the Alfredo and asparagus through the noodles and imitation crab.


2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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