I bet most of you thought this dish was an Italian creation when in fact, as the story goes, it was created in 1914 by a chef named Alfredo di Lelio who was trying to cook something that would please his pregnant wife. This creation was a sauce made from Parmesan cheese and butter and poured over the fettuccine. In Italy it is called “Fettuccine al Burro” or fettuccine with butter. Mostly everywhere else besides the United States, it has no cream. Since American butter and Parmesan cheese lacked the richness of their Italian counterparts, cream was added to the sauce to make up for it. This version became an Italian-American classic, but it never caught on in Italy.
I use an old recipe for “besciamella” or cream sauce.
This is what you’ll need:
- 1 lb. fettuccine noodles (see sketch above)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour (I use Wondra quick mixing flour)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a very large saucepan of lightly-salted water to a boil.
- Add the pasta and bring back to a boil and cook until firm to the bite (“al dente”)
- In a heavy 10 to 12 inch skillet, melt the butter overmoderate heat, being careful that it doesn’t brown.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour a little at a time
- Pour the milk and the cream in all at once, whisking constantly until the flour is almost dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken.
- Return the pan to high heat and cook, stirring constantly with the whisk.
- When the sauce comes to a boil and is no longer lumpy, reduce the heat.
- Simmer, and continue stirring for two or three minutes longer until the sauce is thick and ready to coat the wires of the whisk.
- Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Drain the hot pasta and immediately pour it into the skillet and toss a couple of times making sure the noodles are well-coated by the cream sauce.
- Sprinkle 1 cup of the Parmesan over the noodles and toss the mixture again.
- Serve IMMEDIATELY passing the rest of the Parmesan around for topping.
Remember, in Italy if you ask for Fettuccine Alfredo, they probably won’t recognize the term the way we’ve Americanized it with cream and you’re most likely to get pasta with butter and Parmesan!
Either way, it’s delicious! Make some this weekend!
See you next week!