Alfredo Sauce: Bechamel or no?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by masseurchef, Nov 10, 2018.

  1. masseurchef

    masseurchef

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    Recent (1-2 years) culinary school grad, line cook.
    Hi, I learned to make Alfredo sauce by sauteeing garlic in butter, then adding cream, and finally hitting it with parm, but I see recipes that are bechamel-based. I'm wondering about reasons for the different approaches, is the bechamel-based sauce a bit lighter perhaps? I've never had too much trouble with the butter+cream+parm method, but is the bechamel perhaps a bit easier to work with in that it provides the consistency?
     
  2. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Over the years I have used many methods most Chefs wouldn't agree with. In all cases it had to do with the selling price of the meal. In some low cost operations when the employee meals were $5 the Alfredo was made as a Béchamel made with non-dairy creamer and some chicken base for a Blackened chicken Alfredo linguine. I'm not saying we won any awards with the Alfredo sauce but for $5 it did the job. That being said when I had an opportunity to charge more the quality also increased using cream for a richer tasting sauce.........ChefBillyB
     
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  3. masseurchef

    masseurchef

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    Recent (1-2 years) culinary school grad, line cook.
    I was not thinking in terms of food cost, but of course, why not make a cheaper bechamel-based sauce and then finish it with a bit of cream perhaps. I love the chicken stock+non dairy creamer bechamel idea for a staff meal! I'm all about creative uses of humble and low cost ingredients.
     
  4. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The first thing my Son points out to be is, he now works for people who could afford to buy cream. When he worked for me we used the 2lb bags of non-dairy creamer for clam Chowder and all of our cream soups. We always use good bases for our gravies, soups and sauces. The Béchamel was or could be used for country gravy. The food cost was one factor also having a multi-use item on hand was useful. We also used a lot of coffee creamer for our coffee service..Go figure.....Like I said some people won't agree with doing it that way. It worked for me and thats what counts......ChefBillyB
     
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  5. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Here's a good article about Alfredo that is pretty spot on and gives good insight into the difference between Italian food and Italian American food.

    http://www.culturediscovery.com/tus...acation-blog/culture/alfredo-sauce-americans/

    When preparing the dish in large volumes, the bechamel approach is ok only if the sauce is made to order and there's no holding time involved. Otherwise, the sauce generally breaks after a short while and you're left with white garbage with a layer of fat floating on top.

    Specifically, if the roux is made properly, the sauce shouldn't break, right?. But, because parm cheese, especially aged parm, has less moisture, it tends to break because of the lower moisture content regardless of how well your roux is made.

    Good luck. :)
     
  6. foodpump

    foodpump

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    In Switzerland, cooks talk about the “ lead balloon”— food so rich it feels like you’ve swallowed a lead balloon and the waiter has to roll you out the door after you’ve paid up.

    Reduced cream and aged Parm is nice, but very rich, especially when you combine it with a starch like pasta. A bechemel is a nice compromise, especially if you finish it off ala minute with cream.
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    As I get older I go lighter and lighter with my Alfredo. Now it's half the portion I used to eat, half the butter, better cheese, and a small splash of cream. Very small.
     
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  8. ChefRossy

    ChefRossy

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    I have to agree with Kuan, a bechamel with cheese (typically called a Morney) is heavier and will take longer to create. Stick with the basic cream, parm, and butter and you won't go wrong.
     
  9. foodpump

    foodpump

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    How so heavier?
    Milk is what, 2% or even 3.5% butterfat, vs. Whipping cream @ 33-36% butterfat, and cheese with over 40%butterfat.

    How can you say bechemel is heavier?
     
  10. masseurchef

    masseurchef

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    I think @ChefRossy is referring to the mornay sauce, which one could say is "heavier", but that is because in addition to parm, you would typically be adding gruyere or some other cheese(s). I actually made one last night with bechamel and bits of manchego, parm and poutine curds, as well as some blue cheese chunks on top. And a splash of cream. I guess not the healthiest dish, but I will die happy ;)
     
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  11. ChefRossy

    ChefRossy

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    Thanks masseurchef, yes, I was refering to a morney sauce which can get quite thick and heavy. Sorry for not clarifying.
     
  12. jimyra

    jimyra

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    True Alfredo sauce is butter, parm, and a little pasta water.
     
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  13. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    As you'll find out there are a million ways to do everything when it comes to cooking and no one is really "right" one way or the other generally speaking but maybe the recipe you saw was referring to bechamel because it is considered a mother sauce and sauces like alfredo would be a derivative from that.
     
  14. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Eh..no. A true Alfredo is reduced cream; no roux, no milk, therefore not a derivative of a mother sauce like Bechemel.
     
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  15. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    I'm just stating that the original recipe the OP posted may have used Bechamel as a starting point since it's fairly well known and easy to make. Adding some ingredients to the bechamel would transform it into something very similar to an alfredo you may see now a days.

    It's not entirely fair to discount any of the ingredients listed above being added to a form of alfredo sauce, especially if you want to argue the ingredients of a true alfredo which is reported to be just pasta, butter and parmesan.
     
  16. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    LOL. Butter is the creme de la creme. :D :D
     
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  17. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I’m not discounting any ingredients. The whole concept of a mother sauce is to make that sauce, and then make “ babies” from it. Ie. a bechemel, then add cheese to it, or tomato,etc.

    As many on this site will inform you, an Alfredo is ONLY reduced cream, butter, and Parm. So, as I stated above, an Alfredo is not a deritive of a Bechemel, it’s just an Alfredo, nothing else.

    Of course, in your kitchen you can cook and label things any way you want. However, if you want to use classical descriptors and classical labeling systems,( ie “ mother sauces”, “Béchamel”) you gotta stick with that system—just like you can’t go telling your staff that today is “Grunsday” because you think grunsday is appropriate and makes sense.
     
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  18. chefross

    chefross

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    The jest of this discussion is that if a client wants Alfredo sauce, no matter how you choose to make it, the end product must be able to survive many obstacles (travel, sitting, and service). This is the reason for the many ways to make it. Some are tasty and some are gross. As Chefs we can only offer our opinion unless we own the place.
     
  19. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    Sorry that's a false argument. You can't argue that a bechamel base can't be made into a alfredo because of the ingredients at the same time as arguing that an alfredo sauce if only specific ingredients when the ingredients you list aren't even the ones from the original recipe. Like I said before there are a million ways to make things but to argue that somehow adding a roux or thickener to an alfredo type sauce automatically makes it not one is just silly. People have been adapting cooking techniques and recipes for years and it does nothing for the industry to be so black and white with something as silly as an ingredients.
     
  20. foodpump

    foodpump

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    That’s not the point I’m making at all. Cooking is highly flexible, and as long as it works, it works.

    That said, an Alfredo is made with just cream, parm, and butter. A very good pasta sauce can be made with a bechemel refined with cream and parm. And I do this frequently, especially for catering. But this isn’t an Alfredo, you can call it what you like, an Alfredo-type sauce, for instance, or “Grunsday sauce” even.

    The point I’m making is, what you call it makes a huge difference. Here’s another example: Hollandaise. Everyone knows holly is made with yolks, reduction, and butter. HOW it’s made is a different story. Yet I have made “ hollandaise” from a package, adding milk, or something else to a powder. And for a lot of catering applications this works well, particularly for long holding periods. Now, I can’t honestly call this stuff “Hollandaise”, and I’m guessing neither would you.

    Here’s another point: I once worked for a guy who insisted on calling bought-in pastries “house made”. Pastries were good quality, but they had a very distinctive look to them that could only come from a production bakery, and were easily identifiable as such. O.k., kinda harmless, even though you could call him a freakin eejit, and laugh in his face. Then there was the guy who would purposely sub pork for veal in his schnitzels that he sold at a premium price.”They’ll never know the difference”, he used to say. O.k., this guy is knowingly cheating, a pork schnitzel is not a veal schnitzel.

    So, yeah, I take names pretty seriously, if you’re going to sell an Alfredo, it should be made with just cream, parm, and butter. No one says you can’t sell a pasta with creamy bechemel, ( and I have, many, many times), but you can’t call it “Alfredo”.
     
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