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I’ve been trying to make authentic Alfredo sauce using this recipe. I’m normally pretty good with sauces, but this one is eluding me.

I simmer the pasta water and melt the butter, and everything emulsifiers fine, but as soon as I add the Parmesano-Reggiano I end up with a gooey mess that sticks to the whisk and the bottom of the pan.

I’ve tried freshly grated cheese, cheese grated by the store and several different brands of cheese same result each time.

Am I just doing something wrong in my process?

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    Can you better define 'gooey mess'? Is is going grainy, stringy, clumping, or do you just not have enough water so by the time it properly blends the sauce is too thick? – Tetsujin Jun 16 at 17:10
  • Sorry, by gooey I mean stringy. – MichaelDotKnox Jun 16 at 17:10
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    Possible duplicate of Avoiding clumps in cacio e pepe? – moscafj Jun 16 at 20:16
  • @moscafj I agree that it's the same issue as that question, but that question does not have an accepted answer. – FuzzyChef Jun 17 at 18:09
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Please do see the excellent answer to the Cacio e Pepe question, which applies to your future efforts.

The recipe you link to is just bad, which is why it's not working for you. Boiling the butter and cheese in the pasta water is wrong, and will always result in clumps of stringy cheese. So the answer is to not use that recipe.

The tradition for all emulsified cheese sauce pasta involves tossing the hot pasta in a bowl with the cheese and a little pasta water. Fettucine Alfredo is no exception to this; it just uses butter as well as the cheese. In all emulsified cheese recipes, it's critically important that the cheese not get above 180F/80C, or you will get stringy clumps like you did.

Some examples of recipes that do work, and show this principle:

Then go and read the other answer linked above, because all of those tips for cacio e pepe also apply here.

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    (incidentally, I've found that Bon Appetit has a lot of terrible, untested recipes in their online database, so I wouldn't rely on them in general) – FuzzyChef Jun 17 at 18:36
  • Thanks. That sounds like very sound advice. – MichaelDotKnox Jun 17 at 20:04
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I'd say either your parmesan is aged too much, or you're not working it hard enough for long enough; work it harder & add it slower to test the latter.

According to Wikipedia, Fettuccini Alfredo needs young parmesan - which ironically is probably cheaper & marked as 'supermarket own-brand, economy-grade'. It definitely melts better than 'premium brand'.

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