Background--History of Fettuccine Alfredo & My love of it
So, a few days ago, a friend's (Drew Hardwick) mom (Judy Hardwick), upon seeing my facebook status mentioning this blog, commented that I should check out the "Pioneer Woman"s website because she had really good recipes. So I did (it is listed under the links on this page), and saw several recipes that I wanted to try...including Fettuccine Alfredo! As far as food goes, it is one of my favorite dishes ever...if I go to an Italian restaurant, there is a pretty good chance I will be getting it. I've even tried it in Italy, when my family went...and of course it was delish! However, whenever I make it at home, it normally consists of store bought alfredo sauce and the cheapest pasta noodles I can find. Which believe me, is good, but nothing compared to what I had in Italy or restaurant's like Provinos here in Auburn. So, moving along, I've been wanting to make my own for a while...and make it as authentic as possible. I've heard that the original Alfredo did NOT involve cream, just butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano (what we Americans call Parmesan) cheese! However, I believe European butter is a little bit different than ours, and so we have to use cream. So anyways, this recipe does call for cream, but I think it is about as authentic as we can make here in America.
Note on Ingredients
Now, a little word on ingredients: since I decided I wanted an "authentic" version, I did have to pay more than I would normally. I actually bought Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese imported from Italy (instead of Kraft Parmesan cheese, which while great on spaghetti, just isn't what I wanted for this dish)--but it cost $11! I also bought some more authentic Italian noodles, Dell'Alpe is the brand name. In addition, I bought some nutmeg...and let me tell you, it is a little pricey ($4). Another thing that raised the price was a container of dipping spices I bought (I decided to serve the bread with Olive oil, and wanted some spices to mix in it)--it is "Delallo Dipping Spices," and it is divided into 4 different sections, each containing a different blend: (1) Garlic & Tomato, (2)Sundried Tomato & Basil, (3) Rosemary & Garlic, and (4) Roasted Garlic & Cheese. It too was around $10, but we eat bread a lot, so I figure it'll last us awhile and be put to use.
Main point: Authenticity is pricey, but as long as you don't make this too much (which you shouldn't do anyways b/c of the fat content), it might be worth it to you.
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- French Bread with Olive Oil/Spice Blend dipping sauce (I used a mix of the Rosemary & Garlic and the Roasted Garlic & Cheese)
- Lettuce Wedge
The original recipe can be found here, and below is my slightly modified version (added garlic & nutmeg):
1 pound fettuccine
1 stick butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic*
1 - 1.25 cups heavy cream
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
dash of salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
ground nutmeg, to taste
*you can find already minced garlic at the store (if you don't want to peel, crush, and mince the garlic yourself)--I would use a tsp or 2 of it
- Grate 2 cups of Parmesan
- Bring pot of water to boil, then add pasta (and cook as long as necessary)
- While pasta is cooking, put skillet on stove, and set on low to medium-low heat
- Melt 1 stick of butter in skillet
- Add garlic
- Pour in equal amount of cream (around 1 cup or 1 and 1/4 cups should do it)
- Whisk butter, garlic, cream together gently; add dash of salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg; let mixture continue to warm
- Sprinkle half of the Parmesan into a large serving bowl
- Once butter/cream mixture has had a chance to get nice and warm, pour it over the cheese. Now, DO NOT STIR, just let the cheese and the sauce "get acquainted"
- Just before draining pasta, stick in a metal measuring cup and retrieve some of the water (in case the end product is a bit gloopy, you can throw the water in to thin things out. I did not have this problem, personally)
- Drain pasta, and immediately pour it into the bowl w/the other ingredients
- Toss mixture gently to combine, then add most of the remaining cheese into the pasta (I saved some to sprinkle on top of my serving)
- If pasta is too thick/"gloopy," put in the aforementioned pasta water as needed
So, this salad is not at all Italian, but I've liked lettuce wedges at restaurants, so I made two (one for both of us). It's super easy:
- 1 head iceburg lettuce
- blue cheese or ranch dressing
- blue cheese crumbles
- bacon pieces (you can buy pre-cut, pre-cooked bacon bits/pieces at the store)
- Cut lettuce into wedges (however many and whatever size you need)
- Pour dressing on top
- Top with blue cheese crumbles and bacon
Wonderful!! I was very pleased with how this turned out! The only problem I had was that I slightly undercooked my pasta, but overall it turned out very well! John gave it an 8/10 (with 10 being the best meal he'd ever eaten); he noted that at restaurants, the cream is really the main thing he notices about the sauce, but that in this homemade version the cheese flavor really came through. I would agree--and I'm so glad I splurged and got the $11 cheese! I wouldn't want to do it regularly, but I really think it improved the taste of the dish. My homemade version reminded me more of what I had in Italy than what I get at the restaurants, which is what I was going for. So, basically what I am saying is that this was delicious and I would highly recommend it! Don't think I'll make it again for awhile b/c of the price and the calories, but I think I'll be making it from time to time.
The lettuce wedge was good too. And the store bought bread. The dipping spices made for a yummy olive oil dip, too.