A crazy comforting combination of baked white cheddar rigatoni topped with a creamy shrimp and mushroom white wine Alfredo sauce.
WHAT’S GOING ON HERE:
Rigatoni: Rigatoni pasta is a tube-shaped pasta that is slightly curved. It’s similar to penne but has a wider radius. Rigatoni makes the perfect pasta for creamy sauces since it holds sauce really well.
Half and Half: The key to restaurant-style creamy anything is generally cream and butter, a lot of it! So i never skimp on it at home. Half and half is half cream and half milk it’s slightly thickened but needs a little help on its own, that is why the addition of flour is necessary. If you’re using cream omit the flour.
Butter: Butter brings it all together. Butter at the end mixed into a creamy pasta or sauce gives it a smooth and velvety texture. Make sure to turn the heat off while incorporating the butter so it doesn’t separate.
Cheese: This dish is all about cheese and cream from cream cheese to white cheddar, Alternatively if you can’t find white cheddar just double up on the mozzarella. You want your rigatoni structure to be solid with cheese.
Shrimp: Shrimp adds a little seafood sweetness to this dish. It’s a really excellent pairing with a cream sauce. This recipe can alternatively be made with chicken or crawfish.
Mushrooms: Mushrooms add earthiness to the dish and help cut some of the richness. Use any mushroom medley you have on hand.
Wine: White wine cuts through the fat of the cream and butter. It helps the dish have more flavor other than fat. Use a sharp dry white wine to add some fruitiness to the dish.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST SHRIMP ALFREDO SMOTHERED BAKED WHITE CHEDDAR RIGATONI
brown alfredo sauce: oftentimes when making Alfredo it’s a bright white sauce. when you include the addition of mushrooms it can make it pretty mucky. the key to reducing the brown leeching of the mushrooms is to cook them thoroughly to the point they maintain no excess water, then deglaze and simmer them in wine. reducing the moisture in the mushrooms prior to building the cream sauce will reduce some of the brown leeching. if you add your dairy too soon and the sauce is brown no worries. it will still taste the same.
the rigatoni structure: the key to the rigatoni is making sure it has enough cheese and baking it long enough. you want the rigatoni to set up like a lasagna so that it stays stacked tall once its slightly cooled and cut.
wine and cream: wine is acidic. adding it directly into the dairy will result in curdled milk. you want to give the wine ample time to simmer before adding dairy that way you maintain a silky creamy sauce. if you forget to deglaze with the wine you can always simmer it on the side and then add it to the sauce.
resting and topping: like a lasagna you want the rigatoni to rest. it is pretty much all cream, butter, and cheese. when it’s hot it won’t stand as tall letting it rest for 10-15 minutes will help it stay structurally sound.
finishing the shrimp: start the sauce building by searing the shrimp in the pan you plan on making the sauce in. sear the shrimp quickly over high heat to get a little color on the shrimp. once removed from the pan reduce the heat then start building the sauce. once the sauce is near complete add the shrimp back in to finish cooking.
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