Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Will the Real Alfredo Please Stand Up! - Fettuccine all'Alfredo

The Silver Spoon meets the Golden Fork...

I am experiencing a deep satisfaction right now. You know that “In the Know” feeling. When you know something really cool, and then the information finally gets out and you kind of sit back sort of nonchalantly and say, “Oh yeah, I knew about that”. Not exactly a virtuous character trait, I know, but I can’t help it, let’s just chalk this up to one of my many personality defects. Hey, nobody is perfect, especially not me. But I have been the pariah on too many occasions over this particular food issue to not feel, at least a little, vindicated.

I wrote a little blurb on BakeSpace back in August 07, along with the recipe, (although my method has changed slightly since then) during one such soirée through pariahdom at an "Italian" restaurant. I always feel better after sharing on BakeSpace, my support network of fellow food enthusiasts who actually “get” me. It’s great!

Anyway, I just read the May issue of Saveur and lo and behold, Tom Coleman has revealed the truth as well, in black and white.

Real Fettuccine all’Alfredo does not contain cream.

If it does, it's a very infinitesimal amount and honestly, pasta water works better anyway. It is also not a sauce tossed with pasta, as we know it in the United States, it is a sauce built on pasta by tossing. This is akin to the technique used to produce Linguine alla Carbonara. Coincidentally, both of these dishes hail from Rome.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking cream sauces over pasta in any way. I make Chicken Fettuccine with cream, I just don’t call it "Alfredo".

But once you have tasted the divinely inspired pasta dish that is Fettuccine all’Alfredo, as I did at Arrivederci Ristorante, nothing touted by Olive Garden or Macaroni Grill as “Alfredo” will do. It becomes a universal truth revealed, as you are bathed in rays of sunlight streaming through a break in the clouds. OK, maybe that is a little too melodramatic, but I swear, it IS divinely inspired.

The recipe is extremely simple, like most classic Italian dishes, yet immeasurably flavorful. If you are a lover of Parmigiano-Reggiano, this is the dish for you, for it showcases this amazing cheese in all of its subtle nuanced glory.

Since I have placed a link in this post to the original recipe I posted on Bakespace, which serves 4-6 depending on whether it is served as a starter or as a main dish, I am going to break this down into a per-person serving. (Which is actually how I normally do it) Because you will only want to make as much as you need. This is an "Eat it while it's hot" pasta dish and does not re-heat well. Which explains why there are so many Mornay-esque "Alfredo Sauces" out there as they are more forgiving upon reheating.

Fettuccine all'Alfredo

Per Serving:
4 oz Fettuccine
Kosher salt (For the water - this is important, do not forget)
2 oz (4TB) UN-Salted butter, at room temperature
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly and finely grated (Do not use Stravecchio it is aged too long and thus, does not melt properly)
optional 1 1/2 tsp Warm Light Cream (If you must, but no more - This is your last resort "Ace in the Hole" as it were)

Cut up 1 oz of the butter and place in skillet over REALLY low heat.

Grate the Cheese and slice the remaining butter thinly and set aside

Cook the fettuccine.
Add pasta, using tongs, to the skillet and increase heat to medium low

Add the sliced butter and toss quickly to melt.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and toss vigorously by shaking the pan or using the tongs to toss.

If the sauce appears to dry and grainy (This is what I mean by Dry and Grainy)

Add about 1 1/2 TB hot pasta water and continue tossing. (This is where I stopped, everything was fine, so I did not need the cream)

If it is still dry and grainy, then add warm cream and continue to toss until the sauce smooths out.

Serve immediately in a warmed bowl (this is also important, it must stay warm).

It’s THAT simple… And it’s THAT delicious.

I didn't have a golden fork to eat this with, so I had to settle for a threek. (a 3 tined fork)

Mangia!!
~~
Fettucine Alfredo on Foodista

4 comments:

Michele said...

Seriously? You got it to look like that without adding the cream? You are always teaching me something! I'm making you an honorary Italian...after all, you already have the three tined fork! (I used to make fun of my ex's parents who had those forks because even though i'm Itlian my parents were born here and we never used that type of fork! lol)

Culinary Alchemist said...

AWW, Thank you Michele... :) That means a lot.
It's the tossing over heat and the left over starch in the water that does the trick (OK, I use the Lemon Zester on the Parm, cause it makes thin little shavings instead of the granules produced from grating, it melts smoother...) ;)

Bob said...

That looks fantastic, I had heard that the original didn't have cream but never really investigated it. Learn something every day. Heh.

mlaiuppa said...

I've seen this done as a sauce only and then poured over gnudi.