Cook a very simple Creamy Fettucini Alfredo

Edited by Timbuktu, Nate Pepperell, Eng, Ephraim and 5 others

If Italy is the land of romance then Fettuccini Alfredo could very well be its most romantic dish. This food item was invented by Alfredo di Lelio in 1914; it was his own version of a pasta dish named fettuccine al burro. Fettuccine al burro was served with butter that was added both before and after fettucini was put in a serving bowl. Di Lelio doubled the butter in the bowl before adding fettucini so that the dish became creamier and tastier.

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Fettucini Alfredo Dinner at Pietro's Restaurant April 06, 20113.jpg

What inspired Alfredo di Lelio to create this rich variation? It is said that at the time the cook created his now world famous dish, he had a pregnant wife who could not keep anything down. Now, remember this is Italy after the First World War. In other households around the world, mothers might have given chicken soup to people who are off their food. In Italy, mothers routinely gave their children Pasta in Bianco when they had upset stomachs. Alfredo di Lelio, concerned that his wife was not eating anything, served her Pasta in Bianco but with a healthy double dollop of butter to give the dish more flavor. Now, was not that sweet? It seems that for a while it was the only food his wife could tolerate.

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Then one day, while she was having her white pasta in the restaurant, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford went there to eat and tried the pasta. They loved it so much they got the recipe for it and started to serve it to guests at their parties back home in Hollywood. You have to understand that Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were not your ordinary tourists; during the silent movies era, they were the King and Queen of Hollywood. Their presence alone incited riots. Because of their preference for this dish, pretty soon Alfredo's little restaurant became regularly visited by tourists from Hollywood asking for Fettucini Alfredo. The rest is history.

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Countless Versions of the Same Loving Pasta

Today there are countless versions of this dish originally plain pasta dish. It was dressed up with nothing more than with a bit of butter and Parmesan cheese – until it was recreated as Alfredo's labor of love. Nowadays, most cooks will prepare Pasta Alfredo with a bit of cream or milk, and many will add other types of cheese. Asiago, Romano, and even cream cheese are commonly used in addition to (or instead of) Parmigiano Reggiano in many kitchens.

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To create a thick white sauce (which was not present in the original Pasta in Bianco) flour or a roux made of flour and butter is sometimes added to the cheese. Many cooks have improvised even further and added meat or vegetables, transforming Fettucini into a one-dish meal. The most common vegetables added to this pasta are mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, and green peas. Crumbled bacon, shrimp, and chicken are the most often used meats in variations of Pasta Alfredo. It is also common now to see a lot of other pastas used in lieu of fettuccine: spaghetti, angel hair, macaroni, ziti, penne, and taglierini,

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The Roots of Fettucini Alfredo

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If you are curious about the recipe which formed the basis for Alfredo di Lelio's popular invention, the Pasta in Bianco, here is a recipe you might want to try. It is indeed the simplest of all pastas, yet it is proof that the simplest things can sometimes lead to amazing creations.

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Pasta in Bianco for 2 persons

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Ingredients:

  • ½ pound angel hair or any pasta of your choice
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
  • Pepper
  • Salt (about 1 tablespoon salt)

Procedure:

  1. 1
    Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in an 8 quart pot.
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  2. 2
    Add salt to the pot, and then add the pasta.
    Stir to prevent the pasta from sticking.
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  3. 3
    Cook the pasta following package directions until al dente.
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  4. 4
    Drain the pasta completely with the use of a strainer.
    Do not rinse with cold water.
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  5. 5
    Once you have removed all the water from the pot, return the pasta to the pot.
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  6. 6
    Add oil and butter; Mix well, seeing to it that all of the pasta is coated evenly with the butter and the oil.
    If mixture is too dry, add a little pasta water.
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  7. 7
    Add cheese and mix well.
    Serve immediately with additional cheese and pepper.
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The Contemporary Version

Pasta Alfredo is so popular today there are even readymade versions of it sold in groceries and online stores. Most contemporary versions of this sauce are made with Italian seasoning or sage. Ironically, while this dish is well known in the U.S.A. (thanks to Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford),no one orders Alfredo Fettuccine in Italy, except of course the tourists.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 to 12 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 ounces fettuccine (cooked and drained pasta but not rinsed)
  • Parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in an 8 quart pot.
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  2. 2
    Add salt to the pot, and then add the pasta.
    Stir to prevent the pasta from sticking.
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  3. 3
    Cook the pasta following package directions until al dente.
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  4. 4
    Drain and place in buttered bowl, but keep about a cup of the pasta water.
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  5. 5
    Reheat the pot or sauce pan you used for the pasta.
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  6. 6
    Add cream cheese, Parmesan, butter, and milk into the pot over low fire.
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  7. 7
    Stir continuously until smooth.
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  8. 8
    Pour fettuccine from the bowl, mix well.
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  9. 9
    Garnish with parsley, sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.
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Optional: You can sauté mushrooms in butter and use these as topping for this simple Fettucini Alfredo. Likewise, you can serve it with steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil, salt, and pepper on the side. You can top this basic pasta with just about anything you like.

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Tips, Tricks and Warnings:

  • While the Pasta in Bianco has quite a long shelf life, the addition of cream and other ingredients such as egg may make contemporary versions spoil more quickly.
  • Remember to set aside some of the pasta water. If the sauce you are cooking becomes too thick, you can use some pasta water to thin it.
  • Don't forget to follow directions on the pasta package when cooking your noodles. This dish needs the pasta to be al dente.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
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Categories : Cooking

Recent edits by: Leomar Umpad, Rebecca M., Nerissa Avisado

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