My favorite version of fettuccine Alfredo is also the simplest. It requires nothing more than pasta, butter, water and quality Parmigiano-Reggiano. ---
In this country, most people probably think of a creamy sauce when they think about Alfredo. As I said though, I prefer a version unadulterated by cream. Obviously, with so few ingredients it's critical to have the highest-quality ones. Don't even think about using any cheese other than imported Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano. And, fresh pasta is great, but high-quality dried pasta will also work just fine.
You could use whatever pasta shape you prefer with this recipe. I like thick, homemade fettuccine that is firm to the bite (al dente).
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs. fresh pasta*, preferably fettuccine, or 1 lb. dried pasta
1 stick (8 Tbs.) good quality unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus additional for the table
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
*For next week's Monday Meal I'll share my recipe and technique for making fresh pasta.
Cut the butter up into 1/4-inch pieces (more or less). This will facilitate quick melting and the butter won't burn.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water, according to package directions, until just barely al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter with a pinch of nutmeg in a large, deep pan.
Before draining the cooked pasta, scoop out and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the butter. Toss well with the half cup of grated cheese and, if necessary, add some or all of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce.
I call the Alfredo "sauce," but this version is more of a light coating than the thick, creamy sauce found in most American restaurants.
Serve immediately on warm plates or in warm bowls with additional grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for topping at the table.
Photos by Ted Scheffler