International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Fettuccine Alfredo

Plate of fettuccine alfredo

(Italian pasta tossed with butter and cheese)

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Though pasta tossed with butter and cheese has been around in Italy for a long time — where it is better known as pasta al burro or pasta in bianco — it really took off after Restaurant Alfredo alla Scrofa in Rome served it to American film stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks on their honeymoon in the 1920s. Chef Alfredo renamed the dish after himself, and the actors took the recipe with them back to Hollywood where it was introduced to an appreciative American audience.

As with any dish that uses so few ingredients, it is important that those ingredients be of the highest quality. Try to use fresh artisan or homemade pasta, the best butter and real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

2 to 3 servings

Ingredients

  • Fettuccine -- 1/2 (1-pound) package
  • Butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces -- 6 tablespoons
  • Parmesan cheese, grated -- 3/4 cup, or about 1/4 pound
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste

Method

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot, along with the butter and the grated cheese. Toss together until the butter and cheese form a creamy sauce and the pasta is well coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Fettucine Alfredo Variations

  • American-Style Fettucine Alfredo: The American version of fettuccine Alfredo usually adds heavy cream, forming an even richer dish. Simmer — but do not boil — the butter and 1 cup of heavy cream as you cook the pasta. Toss the pasta with the butter-cream mixture and the cheese and serve.
  • Sauce Additions: Other ingredients are often added to make a full meal of fettuccine Alfredo. For vegetables, try peas or parcooked broccoli. Chopped, cooked chicken breast or shrimp work well for a meaty dish. Simmer the ingredients to heat through in the butter and cream mixture as for the American version above and toss with the pasta and cheese.
  • Substitute other grating cheeses, such as pecorino Romano, for some or all of the parmesan to vary the flavor of the dish.

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