Today, I discovered that parmesan cheese is a key ingredient in alfredo sauce. Who knew! Somewhere along the way, my journey of life led me to believe that - cheesy and delicious as alfredo sauce was - there actually wasn't any cheese that went into its making. Instead, I held onto a vague notion that milk, cooked long enough, would eventually transmorgify into the thick creamy sauce I so enjoyed on fettuccine and chicken. While I'd already put the pasta (penne, of course) on to boil along with a separate pot of diced broccoli stems (yes, they're edible - and by god I will use every ounce of the 88 cents/lb produce), a simple search on allrecipes.com revealed the gravity of my error.
What I had was cream cheese, and what every recipe (well...at least the first 10) called for was parmesan. Crisis. One recipe had in its description, "The secret to this quick and easy sauce is cream cheese" (!!!!) but alas. It too required parmesan.
I was disheartened. But determined to have my penne with alfredo. And broccoli stems. So, as any good student and aspiring real-person would do, I improvised.
Into my rather shitty saucepan went a tablespoon of butter, about half a cup of milk (who knows? I just poured until it looked like it was enough to feed me), a tablespoon of flour. All of this I whisked together over low heat until I became skeptical of its ability to thicken, whereupon I added a dollop of cream cheese and pushed it around on the bottom of the pan until it melted down. Having nothing else to do, I checked on the pasta and proceeded to whisk my sauce again, praying for it to thicken to alleviate my fears of failure. Given time and maybe a minute's patience, magic happened, and it began to resemble something like alfredo. I congratulated myself on achieving master chef status. Tasting revealed a need for salt and pepper, and after waiting another minute or so and watching as it blurped and bubbled (even on low heat), I deemed it acceptable.
At this point, the pasta still wasn't done cooking. But I drained it and served myself anyways. After pouring my alfredo on top and throwing the diced broccoli on, dinner was served.
The pasta ended up being a little tough on the inside but that's life. Impatient life, especially. All told, dinner was prepped and served in under 20 minutes. Not bad, and certainly more legit than the shit that comes out of a box.