Fettuccine Alfredo - Detail - © daringgourmet.com

Classic Dishes: Fettuccini Alfredo

Remember when we said Noodles Romanoff might be considered a Russian analogue to Italian Alfredo? I’ve been getting inquiries about that. Why didn’t i offer an Alfredo recipe? Call it an oversight. But I’m now going to fix that, with a classic technique to make perfect Alfredo every time.

Fettuccine Alfredo - © daringgourmet.comClassic Fettuccine Alfredo. A perfect side for any Mediterranean protein.
Or use it to make your protein Mediterranean!

I’ve had folks say their Alfredo Sauce came out too thin and didn’t cling to the Noodles. I’ve also had folks tell me their Alfredo came out too thick and clumped. I’ve heard of folks who obviously didn’t go their homework, who tried to make an Alfredo starting with a Béchamel (White) sauce. No! That’s just not right… But there is a simple technique you can use to turn out beautiful Alfredo every time, employing a minimum of ingredients.

Warning: This is not a Diet Dish. In fact, it probably contains enough calories to account for half of your recommended daily intake!

What you need…

4 servings Fettuccine Noodles, dry or fresh

4 cups Cream (minimum 18 per cent), or half Cream + half Milk
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped or pressed
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Olive Oil – OR – two more tbsp. Butter
1 tsp. / 5 ml Lemon Zest
1 good Pinch ground Nutmeg
Salt and fresh ground Black Pepper to taste

For garnish

1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh Parsley, Basil or Oregano

What you do…

Bring a couple of quarts / litres of salted water to a rolling boil in a large Saucepan. Add the Noodles and let cook uncovered until just al denté. Time the cooking so that the Noodles are done just when the Cream is ready for assembly the dish. When draining the Pasta, save about 1/2 cup / 125 ml of the Cooking Water in case the Sauce turns out too thick.

In a large (14 in. / 35 cm) highj-sided frying or braising pan, melt the Butter/Oil on medium heat and add the Garlic. Let toast for a minute, until you can start to really smell the Garlic. All-butter is the traditional way to go, here, bur you can swap in some Oliuve Oil in place of some of the Butter if you’re trying to eat healthier. Do not brown or ‘fry’ the Garlic, just ‘sweat’ it. Add the Cream or Milk/Cream mixture and simmer gently. Simmer long enough to reduce (concentrate) the Cream by about 1/2 in volume.

Add the drained Noodles to the Cream mixture along with the first cup of Parmesan, the Butter/Oil, the Lemon Zest and Nutmeg, and the Salt and Pepper. Check the Salt and Pepper and add more of each if needed, to your taste. The fresh ground Black Pepper is a key component of this Classic Dish! Toss with tongs to distribute the Sauce evenly among the Noodles. Add some of the saved Pasta Cooking Water if the sauce is too thick.

Garnish with second amount of Parmesan and your choice of Italian Herbs, chopped medium.

This is a great side with almost any savoury entrée. I sometimes add Mushrooms to the Cream mixture while it’s reducing to get that lovely umami Mushroom flavour throughout the Sauce., You may want to try other variations on the Classic Alfredo, but the simple, classic technique is the most authentic version and the most versatile when you’re pairing sides with mains.


Now you see why Romanoff Sauce reminds me of Alfredo! But, as you can appreciate, there are fundamental differences which will show you the way to appropriate protein pairings with each one. Just try making them both and I guarantee you’ll add them to your repertoire of elegant dishes that are easy to put together in a relatively short time.

~ Maggie J.