Momma’s Fettucine Alfredo

Are you ready for the most effortless, creamy rich intensely flavored sauce?  It’s true an Alfredo Sauce is one of the simpler sauces to make but this one beats them all!!

My mother’s handwritten recipe book, the one with vague measurements and loosely written instructions, included a recipe labeled Fettucine Alfredo.  For many years, I would flip past this recipe as it just didn’t make sense to me.  She listed unsalted  room temp butter, freshly grated parmesan cheese, dash of nutmeg, fettucine, toss.   Okay, so where was the cream I’ve seen in other recipes?

Since I was a teen when she passed away, I didn’t see all that she cooked and baked in the kitchen.  Many times, dishes just appeared magically and gracefully out of the kitchen onto the table.  I know I had eaten small bowls of pasta in a creamy, rich  sauce.  And then I remembered.

I was searching online for Italian sauces and found this description from Wikipedia, ‘Fettuccine Alfredo is a pasta dish made from fettuccine pasta tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich coating on the pasta.’

That was the recipe!  And now I recalled seeing her mix softened butter with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  In a bowl, nothing more.  The key to the sauce is that the butter is not melted down but remains soften creating a perfect thick sauce.  The heat from the hot cooked fettucine, along with reserved pasta water poured in a little at a tme and tossed gently melts the cheese and creates the sauce.

I first served this to my daughter, the lover of all rich sauces, and we both just fell madly into this pasta!  The idea that we were eating a bowl of… gasp, butter was lessened by the thought that there was no further added fat as in the form of cream.  We then went off fantasizing about creating compound butters with fresh herbs, lemon zest, crushed red pepper and garlic to create other fabulous and so very easy pasta dishes!

I’ve prepared this with fresh fettucine and dried.  I do prefer the dried as it holds up better as it’s being tossed in the sauce.  A little serving goes a long way; pair a small serving of this with a fresh green salad or warm greens and you’ll feel a bit less guilty while you’re being dreamily indulgent.

Fettucine Alfredo

1/2 pound Fettucine, I prefer using dried for this recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

dash of nutmeg, for only a hint of taste

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (or use white pepper if you prefer not to see the black)

Allow the butter to come to room temperature, leaving it out on the counter for a few hours.  In a medium size bowl, combine the butter, parmesan cheese and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Bring a lot pot of water to a boil, salt generously and drop in the fettucine.  Cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the fettucine.  Return the fettucine to the hot pot you cooked the pasta in but off the heat and add in the butter mixture.  Toss the fettucine and butter gently adding in some of the pasta water.  Start with 1/4 of a cup pasta water and as you toss and the sauce will come together, adding in a bit more water to reach your desired consistency.  I have used about 3/4 cup of pasta water.  Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Serve at once.  Makes about 4 small servings, 2 – 3 larger.



I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


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