Fettuccine Alfredo

Fettuccine Alfredo (also [mis]spelled fettuccini in English) is pasta in a cream, butter, and cheese sauce. Sounds good already! Sig. Alfredo, a restaurateur in Rome, made this soothing dish for his pregnant wife. This recipe comes from Andreino's Restaurant in San Clementi, CA. Andreino DeSantis was an apprentice to Sig. Alfredo, who was a family friend. I figure the recipe doesn't get more authentic than this!

2 (1/2 lb.) sticks of butter (or oleo)
2 large cloves garlic
4 c heavy cream
1 1/2 to 2 c grated Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 c is really plenty)
1 lb. pasta
salt and pepper to taste after sauce is assembled; red pepper flakes optional - if you use this add with the cream to hydrate and spread the flavor

Mince garlic and sauté in a little olive oil in a rather deep sauce pan (not a sauté pan). Don't let it burn - no more than lightly golden!

Add butter and let melt; you'd better turn down the heat.

Add cream and bring the mixture just to the boiling point (turn up the heat a tad). Watch! No hotter or the cream will curdle.

Add the cheese.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. The recipe name says fettuccine, but the Andreino recipe, and, presumably, the Alfredo recipe calls for cavatelli (a small circle of pasta rolled into a tube, but still open - like a hotdog bun that’s been cracked opened) or conchiglie (“shells”). I prefer campanelli ("little bells") because they hold even more sauce! I have never used them for this recipe, but I’ll bet fusilli (spirals) or radiatori (“radiators”) would work work well, too. You can see the reasoning here: these pastas offer plenty of places for the delicious sauce to pool, thus making the pasta only the vehicle to transfer the sauce!

Drain the pasta well and add to the sauce in the pan. Toss well. (Don’t put the pasta in a bowl and pour sauce over the pasta. It’s easier to mix it in the saucepan, so put the pasta in the saucepan.)

Note: This makes a fairly thin sauce (my younger son, then age 6, called this dish "cheese soup" when we had it at Andreino’s; he never ordered anything else). If you don’t drain the pasta well, the sauce will be thinner yet.

More cheese thickens the sauce, but I find that 1 1/2 c of cheese is plenty (yes!); 2 c is on the way to overkill.

This dish is to die for, and it will account for at least two days’ calories! Not to mention LDL cholesterol!

~~~

Caution! Heresy alert! You may faint at the following changes.

I like a thicker sauce. (1) After I sauté the garlic, I mix in some flour to make a roux. Then I set this aside until the butter and cheese are melted and cream is hot. I whisk in the roux to thicken the sauce. (2) Depending on the thickness at this point, I also often add cornstarch (about 1/4 c for the amounts given in this recipe, but start with a couple of tablespoons). I use just enough water to make a slurry; add the water in dribbles.

I also like some more stuff in the sauce. I often slice half a large onion and sauté that with the garlic. This requires a little more oil, and, for the roux, a little more flour. Sometimes, sliced mushrooms. Or both.

Note: The recipe here for Sausage with Onions and Bell Peppers is also from Andreino's.


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marbeth@marthabeth.com