I have had this recipe in my electronic “stack of pages torn from magazines” for years and years. This is not metaphorical – at one point, I scanned in like 100 recipes I had ripped out of magazines. It looked good to me, but I always shy away from alfredo sauces at restaurants, because I am sure they are pure cream and cheese. I honestly can’t enjoy a sauce like that, I prefer to spend my calories elsewhere (cough, cough – french fries and red wine and chocolate. cough. cough.). This recipe definitely looked healthed-up, but it was just never a good day to make it. For 7 years.
But something nudged me to make it in August when I was at my family’s house on Lake Michigan for a week of severe R&R. I spent the better part of a week alone with my dog, sleeping in, catching up on life, napping, making fires in the fire pit, and watching sunsets.
Yeah, it was pretty amazing.
And, of course, there was cooking!
Once a day, honestly so I wouldn’t forget how to interact with humans, I went into town, usually to pick up a few groceries for the day. Being able to just get in my car and drive to a store like 5 minutes away at any hour, without worrying about traffic, was so novel to me. I found a wonderful little shop called The Local – definitely the most bougie thing to hit a 40-mile radius of town. Sustainable, seasonal, housemade, the whole 9 yards. They smoked and cured their own meats, including an amazing “Haps Bacon,” which probably subconsciously prompted me to make this recipe.
Oh, and then 3 days after I found it, The Local announced they were closing, forever. RIP, amazing smoked meats.
I made this recipe twice during my week in Michigan, both times riiiiight when the light was terrible for photography in all locations in the house. This was of course like a hot minute after my 10 Tips and Techniques That Improved My Food Photography post, and I was simply unable to follow my own advice. Life!
But it was delicious, and I was excited to make it and post about it, so here we are.
I love that this recipe can be made from ingredients that you can keep on hand, and it comes together quickly. Be warned, though, it is hands-on – each of the few steps go very quickly. “Alfredo” always seemed precious and complicated, but this recipe was neither. I always have some thick-cut bacon in the freezer, which is perfect for this recipe, now that my precious Haps can no longer be procured.
I was alone the majority of the week in Michigan, but NB came to visit one night, and told me she was trying to eat healthier. She knows I don’t cook heavy for myself, so she was not too worried, and we talked about the ingredients. We agreed that bacon and cheese kind of don’t count. *Friends.*
This was a good sauce for zucchini noodles, too – further healthification, which is always a great way to get in your veggie servings for a meal.
Alright, I won’t try to make you agree that this recipe is healthy, but you can’t argue that it’s not healthier than a traditional alfredo! I will save those extra calories for the wine, thankyouverymuch. And the quart of chocolate gelato that should have known better than to hang out in my freezer.
NB opted for regular noodles. Here is her chronicle of the evening, served lakeside:
- 2 servings of fettuccine noodles or 2 servings of fresh raw zucchini noodles
- 2-3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
- 1 t garlic, minced
- 1 T flour
- 1 c skim milk
- .5 c grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 T chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Prepare the pasta or zucchini noodles.
- Place the diced bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook until the bacon is crisp (about 3-4 minutes).
- Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon. Place the cooked bacon bits on a paper towel.
- Leave 1 Tablespoon of the bacon drippings(/grease) in the pan, and discard the rest.
- Add the garlic to the drippings in the pan.
- Sauté the garlic, stirring so it doesn't burn, until it gets fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Sprinkle the flour over the garlic, and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Reduce the heat to medium and gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce slightly thickens (about 2-3 minutes). Keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, because you don't want the milk to "scorch" on the bottom of the pan. Keep it moving!
- Once the sauce has thickened, remove the pan from heat, and add half of the cheese to the sauce, stirring until it melts.
- Add the hot prepared pasta, or raw zucchini, to the pan, and toss well to combine; or plate the pasta or zucchini and top with the alfredo sauce.
- Top with the cooked bacon, and add freshly ground pepper, and parsley if using.
Adapted from: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/fettuccine-alfredo-with-bacon