Carrabba's Fettucine Alfredo Recipe
I know this is an old thread, but i stumbled on it after having a so-so Fettucini Alfredo at the Olive Garden and trying to research the recipe. It exists in two main versions: without cream (seemingly the original) and with cream. It is interesting that in a dish this simple every ingredient makes a difference. By all accounts, this dish must be made with home-made fettucini. Since eggs are a big ingredient in the pasta, the eggs themselves will affect the flavor of the dish. Also, the classic dish uses a lot of butter. Salted or unsalted? Sweet-cream butter or fermented-cream butter? Most of our butter in the U.S. is sweet-cream butter, but a lot of the salted butter I have eaten has a slightly off flavor. So I opt for unsalted. Even the salt affects the flavor. Sea salt is preferable (common table salt often gives off a metallic smell in the boiling water). Of course the cheese can make a huge difference. And if you follow the tradition that uses cream in this dish (most modern versions do), how much do you reduce it in preparing the sauce? In any case, how much water from the pasta pot do you add to the sauce to loosen it and help it coat the noodles? But having said all that, I have to find a Carrabba's and see if it is really as good as stuff made at home with good, fresh ingredients. Thanks for the lead.
Ever since I was 8 years old, I've been to Carrabba's on average once every two weeks, and I've ordered one dish and one dish only every single time for the last 13 years - Fettucine alfredo (plain)
I'm crazy over their fettucine alfredo. I've been to virtually every single restaurant in Austin that serves fettucine alfredo, and this..chain of all places happens has one of the best preparations.
I'm normally one of those "chain elitists" - I usually have a negative view on chains before even giving them a try, but Carrabba's is a huge exception.
I can safely say that I've tried Carrabba's fettucine alfredo on the order of 200 times or so - so much that I've been given the name "Fettucine King" when I enter the establishment.
It's always fun to hear whispers among the staff "The fettucine king is here!" Back in the day I befriended a waiter named Mike who was studying geology at UT Austin. I'd always ask for him during every visit, and he was great. On many occasion, he'd actually pre-order my usual double helping of alfredo before we even sat down at the table! Amazing service. I wonder how he's doing these days. I wonder if he'd remember me, the "Fettucine King."
Anyways, I'll say this - I've tried many times to replicate the alfredo sauce from Carrabba's, all to no avail.
There is some special savory taste in their fettucine alfredo that makes me go crazy over it, and I'm not sure what it is. After my many tastings, though, I've discovered that it almost feels as though this secret "savory" component is in fact a part of the noodles themselves, and not just the sauce.
No homemade alfredo sauce has ever cut it for me either when put up to the table against Carrabba's alfredo. It almost doesn't seem possible, which may seem very odd for such a simple dish.
I've tried to use my patronage as a way to divulge the alfredo sauce recipe, and all I got was "I can't tell you the recipe unfortunately (duh! I've spent upwards of $4000 on this dish here alone in ~10 years, of course they want my money!), but I will say that you should put in more parmesan than usual"
Putting in more parmesan...does nothing. It's not the same.
P.S. For anybody who tried to do the math to see if it all adds up - every time I've visited carrabba's, I order two adult portions of fettucine alfredo and ask them to put it in a big bowl. That's how much I enjoy their preparation.
I think if I was a real chef or real food critic with a really developed and diverse "palate," I could probably then have told you exactly what's in this alfredo sauce (or noodle composition) that makes it so special. But...alas, I can't.
dcx1287, I recognize you from the Austin board. I feel like taking on a challenge. Which Carrabba's is better in Austin (if it makes a difference)? I'm much closer to the one on Research, which will help if I'm ordering to take home. I think sometime long ago I had Carrabba's alfredo sauce, but I can't remember it. I want to see if I can discern the elusive "special" component. At least I'll have fun trying.
I looooooove Carrabba's fettucine alfredo - plain - and also say nothing compares to it. I believe it's due to the actual pasta, not the sauce. Their fettucine pasta tastes fresh, but not like any I've had before. It may also be the pecorino romano cheese, since most times alfredo is made with parmesan.
Needless to say, I have been craving Carrabba's alfredo for weeks and now I'm really dying for some (and on bedrest). Thanks, guys!
Hey, sorry stephanieh I didn't see your post. I'm not too consistent with keeping up with the boards.
The Carrabba's I go to is the one on research, and I can't comment on the relative quality of the other IH-35 location (because I've never been there, I live in Westlake off 360 hence the Research location is closest), but I will say this.
If you decide to try out Carrabba's one of these days, do NOT order it for take home.
I have found that their pasta does not "hold up" well on the ride home. There is something about being served reasonably hot pasta in a large warm bowl that really makes the difference.
On and off I have ordered their alfredo for take home, and I am never as pleased with it as I am if I eat it dining in.
I wouldn't necessarily call this a flaw with Carrabba's alfredo itself; rather, it's simply the nature of most cream based sauces regardless of the restaurant.
The worst thing you can do is take some alfredo home (if you can't finish), put it in the fridge, and warm it up the next day. It comes out just awful..
If you order the Pasta Carrabba (Fettucine alfredo + chicken + mushrooms + peas), make sure to tell them to go "easy on the peas," because they always seem to put in way too many peas.
Regarding Austin board members - a very reliable member, "tom in austin," has also given a thumbs up to Carrabba's steak in this thread:
Putting it a notch or two under some "elite" known steakhouses - Finn and Porter, Sullivan's, Fleming's, among others.
So overall I'd say you might consider giving their steak a try as well as the alfredo. Good luck and take care.
DCX1287, I finally made it to Carrabba's this week. It took me longer than I'd planned since I hadn't realized at first that they aren't open at lunchtime. About a week before I went, I made the copycat recipe given above by goodhealthgourmet and mschow. I'd wanted to have them closer together for better “side by side” comparison, but that didn't work out.
I had to be a rebel and not take your advice on carry-out. I don't know when I'd have made it there if I had to eat in. My husband doesn't care for Carrabba's, and I'm not crazy about dining alone, plus I'd have wanted to go at lunchtime. So, take out was the only option for me to have their fettucine alfredo anytime soon. I promise you, though, I had it to my destination in four minutes, and it was almost too hot to eat when I opened it. I think I tasted it as near perfection as I could. ;-) I'm all too familiar with the swift decline of cream based sauces. I've been known to eat leftovers straight out of the fridge rather than heat it up and watch the sauce break. (But, usually, I consider it my responsibility to finish it in the first sitting.)
I went to the one on Research. I asked if they had plain fettucine alfredo, and naturally, they first tried to get me to order the Pasta Carrabba and told me they could leave out the mushrooms and peas if I wanted. Then, she said they could do a “specialty order” of fettucine alfredo for $9.99. (She was really nice about it.) I took that option. I hate peas. And, imo, all those extra bits ruin the purity of good alfredo. I might go for the chicken in it sometime, but never peas.
It was as delicious as everyone in this thread said it was. I loved it. I could eat it again right now. I have good news and bad news, though. Bad news, as far as my taste buds could detect, I didn't note any top secret savory ingredient that made this alfredo otherworldly. I guess that's the good news. This was very, very close to the copycat recipe I made at home. I liked the simplicity. I've always made my home alfredos starting with a roux. I learned something with this copycat recipe... I don't need a roux to thicken it. Also, I've always added garlic to flavor it, and a pinch of nutmeg. This one had neither, and was very flavorful. If I were serving this over something (chicken breast, etc), as opposed to tossing with fettucine, I might find I like the thicker sauce better. However, this was the right consistency for coating every single fettucine noodle. When tasting the Carrabbas dish, I singled out a fettucine noodle and dissected it from the sauce (licked it off), so I could taste the pasta separately. I could be wrong, but I don't think the pasta is flavored in any non-traditional way. I'm pretty sure the white pepper called for in the copycat is the only seasoning other than salt.
Here are my notes on the recipe. I doubled this recipe to serve two.
If doubling, use 1 tsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp fresh ground white pepper. (I only had whole white peppercorns, so I used that from a pepper grinder. After “steeping” it with the butter and cream, and just before I added it to the pasta, I strained out the pepper for a smoother sauce. However, I believe Carrabba's dish used a more finely ground white pepper, and it would be left in the dish. Not sure what measurement to use for the more finely ground.)
I used Romano per the recipe, despite my belief all alfredos are supposed to be made from Parmegiano Reggiano. I like both cheeses, but if I'm eating them by themselves at room temperature, I prefer parm to Romano. Romano just tastes “sheepy” to me. Like pasture. I'm embarrassed to say, though, that I can't tell if Carrabba's is made with Parm or Romano. Once melted into the sauce, they both mellow and taste similar to me. I believe I bought my Romano at Randall's, but perhaps it was HEB. I used Pecora Bianca brand Pecorino Romano, if that matters. This does call for quite a bit more than I've seen in other alfredo recipes.
For the pasta, I used one 9 oz package of Buitoni Fettucine. The recipe called for 4 oz, so doubled would have been 8 oz., but I really don't think the dish suffered for the higher pasta ratio. When cooking your pasta, do not add oil to the water (you want the pasta to absorb flavors from the sauce). Salt the water. A lot! I used 1 Tbsp of table salt for 3 quarts water. Follow the package. I think you cook it for two minutes only.
One other thing I find interesting about this recipe is the late addition of romano, and just heating it enough to incorporate. It makes sense, but I'd never thought to do it. Cheese mellows the more it's cooked, so this way may help it retain more flavor.
To break it down, you should definitely try making this recipe at home. I think it's extremely close to Carrabba's. But, in the end, you can also justify continuing to go to Carrabba's. I'm guessing the cheese is around $12.99/lb and the pasta is $3.50-ish, and I don't remember how much heavy cream is, and you probably have the other ingredients on hand. So, you'd have roughly $11-$12 invested in making the dish for two people, vs. $9.99 per person. But, you'd have to prepare it yourself (which was fun for me, but I don't always want to). Oh, and I forgot to mention my biggest surprise... how good the bread was they gave me to go with my pasta! It was some of the best bread I've had in a long time. Rustic crusty on the outside, doughy and yeasty on the inside. Hot, too. That alone was worth the extra few bucks, because there's no way I can make that bread at home.
did you ever find out what the taste was? I quote from your note..."There is some special savory taste in their fettucine alfredo that makes me go crazy over it, and I'm not sure what it is."
It might have been "nutmeg" It can make all the difference (besides quality ingredients). Just a whisper of fresh grated or a light sprinkle of ground in the sauce before the fettucini gets added.
savory component that's part of the noodles... I can only think one thing: When making pasta at home, do you salt your pasta water? You want to put LOTS of salt in the pasta cooking water, at least a full tablespoon per gallon of water. I measure what looks like a heaping tablespoon by hand and dump it in. And before you ask, not all of the salt makes it into the pasta.
These are some recipes from Carrabbas and the fettucine recipe is one of those listed under a chicken recipe. I am guessing the chicken is served with the fettucini at the restaurant.
CARRABBA'S POLLO ROSA MARIA
POLLO ROSA MARIA
Greg Gotham/Carrabba s Italian Restaurant
Wednesday, March 1, 2000 Recipe #2448
1 (10 oz) chicken breast, cut in half and butterflied
2 oz fontina cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 thin slice prosciutto
Pinch of white pepper
Favorite Grill Seasonings
Grill basting sauce
Lemon Butter Basil Mushroom Sauce:
Thick sliced mushrooms, sauteed with garlic and parsley
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 Tbsp chopped onion
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
Pinch of salt and white pepper
1/3 lb unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 oz unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and white pepper, to taste
3 oz grated Romano
4 oz fresh fettuccini
Sprinkle each chicken breast with white pepper and place 1/2 slice of prosciutto on one side of breast. Top with cube of fontina. Fold over chicken breast, encasing fontina and prosciutto. Allow to sit for 3 hours. Sprinkle each prepared breast with grill seasoning and baste with available grill baste. Place on grill approximately 5 minutes per side or until done. To make the Pollo Rosa Sauce, saut onion and garlic in 1 ounce of butter until translucent. Reduce to oatmeal consistency. Allow to cool and begin to add 4 ounces of room temperature butter. Whisk over low heat until emulsified. For the Fettuccini Alfredo, melt butter with salt and white pepper. Add 6 ounces heavy cream. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow to rest until serving. For the pasta, submerge pasta in salted boiling water according to package instructions. Place pasta in Alfredo sauce. Return to medium heat, sprinkle with grated Romano. Using pasta fork, incorporate Romano into pasta until melted. To finish, incorporate previously sauteed mushrooms and basil into Pollo Rosa sauce. Top pasta with chicken and sauce