Freezing a batch of chicken Alfredo exemplifies kitchen economy -- economy of space, food cost and time. You can reheat chicken Alfredo from frozen to 165 degrees Fahrenheit -- the minimal serving temperature for all reheated foods -- in less time than it takes to cook it from scratch. And by freezing the Alfredo in flat layers in freezer bags, you can arrange them to accommodate your freezer space. Add a touch of cream when reheating Alfredo to bring the sauce together if it separates and cook the noodles just to al dente so they don't overcook when you reheat them.
Cooling Down Safely
Alfredo has to be in the refrigerator or freezer within two hours of cooking it. Not that you want to leave the dish out on the counter for two hours -- the sooner you place it in cold storage the better -- but if its internal temperature stays between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit too long, any bacteria it may contain multiplies to illness-inducing levels.
To cool chicken Alfredo quickly and keep it out of the food danger zone, spread it out in an even layer in one or more large shallow dishes -- don't layer more than 1 inch of Alfredo in a dish. Stir the Alfredo frequently. For rapid chilling, place the dish in a large container in a couple of inches of ice water.
Freezing Family-Sized Portions
Pack the Alfredo for storage when it reaches room temperature. If you're batch cooking, or freezing a family-sized portion, pack the Alfredo in 1-gallon heavy-duty freezer bags in a 1-inch layer. Squeeze as much air as you can from the freezer bags and zip them closed.
Alfredo stored in thin, even layers reaches the freezing point faster than in deep containers. The faster the Alfredo freezes, the better quality upon thawing -- it has less time to form the microscopic ice crystals that rupture the starch cells in the pasta and create sogginess when reheated.
Freezing Individual Portions
Single servings of Alfredo freeze faster and reheat quicker than large portions. Simply add one or two frozen portions of Alfredo to a saucepan when you want to serve it and reheat it to 165 F -- no thawing required.
Pack 1- to 2-cup portions of Alfredo into 1-pint freezer bags in flat, even layers. Squeeze as much air out of each bag and seal.
Freezing Sauce Separately
Freeze Alfredo sauce in ice-cube trays and cook the noodles to order when you're ready to serve. When you're ready, pop out as many cubes of sauce as you need and reheat it in the microwave. While the sauce cooks, boil the noodles in a pot of salted water and reheat the chicken in a saute pan.
You can reheat frozen Alfredo without thawing it first. If you do thaw it before you reheat it, place the frozen package of Alfredo in a shallow dish in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat Alfredo until it reaches 165 F in the center. Don't refreeze previously frozen Alfredo -- repeated freezing and thawing cultivates bacteria and diminishes the dish's quality.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.