A classic Fettuccine Alfredo is one of the simplest and most decadent pasta dishes you can make, but all that gorgeous decadence does NOT come from cream! The story of this classic pasta dish from Rome starts the same way so many of my favorite dishes do, as an act of true love. It’s no secret that food is my love language, something I have in common with Alfredo di Lelio, the creator of this magical pasta dish.
As the story goes, a few days after Alfredo’s gorgeous wife Ines gave birth to a baby boy, she was feeling ill and nothing seemed appealing to her. To ensure the love of his life was keeping up her strength he went into the kitchen and transformed a few simple ingredients; pasta, butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano into a work of art fit for his very own queen. One bite of this luscious dish immediately brought Ines’ appetite back and Alfredo knew he was on to something.
Alfredo’s family still operates a restaurant in Rome famous for this iconic dish, and they were kind enough to share their family secrets with me. First things first, put down the cream. The beauty of Alfredo is the simplicity. Perfectly al dente fettuccine is tossed with a mountain of light and feathery Parmigiano-Reggiano, a few knobs of butter (I don’t need to tell you that European style is best here, it’s extra rich, just like you are) and tears of the pasta gods. The butter, pasta water and cheese join forces to create a bond like no other. The only garnish you need is a gentle shower of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Save the parsley for your Snappy Harlot, this queen needs nothing extra.
🍝 1 pound fettuccine
🌊 Kosher salt, measure with your heart and soul, the water should taste like the sea
🧀 2 heaping cups of light and feathery freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
🧈 1 1/2 sticks unsalted European-style butter, cut into chunks of love
Bring a large pot of gorgeously salted water to a boil. Add your pasta and cook to al dente perfection, salty with a bite, just like you are. Drain the pasta but look after the tears of the gods like they are your first born.
Add the cooked pasta to a pan set over a whisper of a flame. Add half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and all of the butter. Bathe the pasta in a ladle of the tears of the gods and gently massage the pasta, cheese and butter together by tossing it confidently (but with love) with two wooden spoons until it’s silky and smooth, just like you are.
Add the remaining cheese and an extra drizzle of pasta water and mix until it’s just gorgeous. Serve in warm pasta bowls, with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.