In 1914, Italian chef, Alfredo di Lelio made fettuccine Alfredo as a comforting dish for his pregnant wife. The original contained cheese and butter, but no cream. Since its humble beginnings, cooks have adapted it to include cream, eggs, cream cheese and chicken or seafood. Chicken fettuccine Alfredo is quick enough to make for a weeknight meal, and elegant enough for entertaining. Freeze it and it takes even less time to prepare.
The simplest way to make chicken fettuccine Alfredo for the freezer is simply to double or triple a recipe when you are making it for dinner. Once cooked, cool the pasta and sauce quickly by setting it over a bowl of ice water. Pack the cooled dish in heavy-duty plastic bags or freezer boxes. Seal the containers tightly and label them with the date. Frozen dishes, including chicken Alfredo, must be stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below to remain safe, according to the USDA food and safety guidelines. Use frozen chicken Alfredo within three to six months for best quality. Because chicken Alfredo contains dairy products, you cannot leave it out for any length of time. Refrigerate or freeze it within two hours of serving.
Freezing leftover chicken fettuccine Alfredo allows you to extend the shelf life of a food that might otherwise go to waste. It is also a smart way to do menu planning because you have a meal ready in the freezer for busy weekday nights. On the other hand, freezing meals is more expensive than cooking from scratch because of the extra cost of packaging, storing and reheating. Freezing pasta can cause it to turn mushy and cream sauces may separate.
To ensure the best quality possible when freezing chicken fettuccine Alfredo, leave the pasta slightly underdone, since freezing it softens it. When you reheat it, it will be tender, but not mushy. You can also freeze the sauce and chicken without the pasta. Make fresh pasta to serve with the thawed and heated sauce. Another trick is to use cream rather than milk in your Alfredo sauce because milk is more likely to separate or curdle when you reheat it. Avoid using cream cheese, which can become watery in the freezer. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper to help retain its fresh flavor, but do not add garlic to the dish until you reheat it. Garlic sometimes becomes bitter when frozen.
Freezing food is a safe way to store it so long as the freezer remains at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If the temperature rises, the food becomes unsafe and you should discard it. Freezing chicken Alfredo does not improve the quality or freshness of the dish, so be sure to cook with only the best ingredients. Thaw frozen chicken Alfredo in the refrigerator overnight, not on the kitchen counter top. At room temperature, harmful bacteria multiply quickly, potentially causing foodborne illness. Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees or below, according to the USDA. Heat the dish in the oven or a microwave until it bubbles and a meat thermometer reads 165 F. Refrigerate any leftovers promptly and use them within two days.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."