Ramen, chicken noodle soup, and fettuccine alfredo were my favorite foods growing up. The one thing that they all have in common is NOODLES. I have a special place in my heart for pasta and noodles which are the foods I find myself turning to when I'm looking for something comforting.
I grew up in New York City and I can still remember the first time that I had fettuccine alfredo. Italian restaurants are plentiful and my family frequented Nick's Pizza on the Upper East Side. Known for their signature spiked bread and wood-fire pizza Nick's also has a delicious selection of pastas. When we were out with guests one night, my mom put some alfredo on my plate and told me I would enjoy it. From that point on, I fell in love with the creamy and delicious dish that I've now ordered all around the world.
Nick's Fettuccine Alfredo
The origin of fettuccine alfredo is highly contested, but the restaurant that is given the most credit for its invention is called Alfredo Alla Scrofa in Rome. The dish only contains four ingredients: freshly cooked homemade fettuccine, butter, parmesan, and a little pasta water. I had the great fortune of trying the pasta back in 2014 on a summer trip to Italy with my family. The dish is assembled table side and tossed lovingly by the waiters. The dainty fresh egg pasta makes the dish resemble a plate of saucy scrambled eggs.
Alfredo Alla Scrofa
It is probably safe to say that I have ordered this dish hundreds of times at this point. I have had many variations and talked to many people who have strong opinions about what should go in to the dish. There is a debate whether or not cream should go in to the dish (traditionalists will swear against this addition). There is talk of whether garlic should be included or if it should be topped with basil or parsley. As with all recipes I believe that no matter what the schools of thought are surrounding food you should always be able to do what makes you the happiest.
My variation of the dish is a bit untraditional and features garlic, cream, and basil. I must admit that while the dish is known as fettuccine alfredo I often times enjoy this dish best with pasta like angel hair, tagliatelle, or pappardelle. If available, fresh fettuccine makes a world of difference.
5 Min Prep
20 Min Cook
- 1 lb of dried Fettuccine (or two 9 oz packs of fresh fettuccine like Buitoni or Rana)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 large or 3 small cloves of garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and pinch of pepper
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan
- 8 - 10 leaves of basil chopped
1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil on high heat. While water is heating prep sauce. Once the pot has come to a rapid boil season with salt and cook pasta one to two minutes shy of package directions (fresh pasta only ever cooks for 1-3 minutes so in this recipe it will cook for only a minute). Your pasta should finish cooking the same time or after your sauce has completed, so drop it in the water accordingly.
2. On a cutting board mince the garlic and chop the basil and set aside.
3. In a sauté pan or pot big enough to fit the pasta add your butter and start melting on medium high for one minute. Add the garlic and constantly stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes (the garlic nor butter should brown so adjust your heat to low if necessary).
4. Next add your cream, salt, and pepper to the garlic and butter mixture. Turn heat to medium high and constantly stir for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and bubbles form. Once sauce has reached this consistency, add your pasta directly from the pasta pot (if pasta isn't cooked yet, shut off the heat and wait for it to finish).
5. Once the pasta and sauce are combined, cook for an additional minute and turn off the heat. At this point gradually add your parmesan and basil then stir to combine. If the sauce is too thick add hot pasta water a ladle at a time until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
6. Top with parmesan, pepper, and additional basil as desired and enjoy! This dish has a tendency to be quite decadent which makes a lemon wedge a lovely accompaniment too.
Tips and Tricks:
Prevent pasta from sticking: The only fool proof way to keep pasta from blobbing together is to stir it frequently when you first drop it in the water. In the first 2-3 minutes of cooking, pasta releases its outer layer of starch which glues together the strands. Adding oil to your pasta water does NOT work because the oil rises to the top of the pot and the pasta sinks to the bottom.
Sauce consistency: A French term referring to sauces is called a "nappe" consistency. This refers to a very specific viscosity of when a sauce has reduced which is neither too thin or too thick. The best way to know if you have reached this consistency is if your sauce can coat the back of a spoon and not drip off.
Saving pasta water: As a rule of thumb its best to not drain your pasta water when cooking most Italian dishes. Instead, I suggest transferring the pasta directly from its pot over to the pot you are making your sauce in. This leaves you with an entire pot of seasoned pasta water that you can use to marry the pasta with the sauce.