Perfect, creamy, classic, restaurant quality Fettuccine Alfredo. Indulgent – definitely. Everyone thinks it is SO unhealthy. But it’s only 420 calories for a decent size serving – did you know that?! Sure, not the most nutritious meal. But you won’t go up a jeans size! (Unless you eat 3 servings for yourself….)
I triple checked the nutrition analysis because I couldn’t believe my eyes when it came out with only 420 calories for a good size serving of this pasta. I have it in my head that Alfredo is so bad for you because it’s made with cream. Sure, there’s a high fat content. But the calories are a lot less than I expected. A LOT less.
Maybe because this is a recipe that uses the classic Italian method of emulsifying the pasta (which is the magic that happens when you briefly cook the sauce with the pasta + some pasta water). By doing this, the sauce gets thick, rich and glossy so it clings lusciously to every single strand (take a close look at the photo above!). So you don’t need to use an entire tub of cream to make a beautiful, restaurant quality Alfredo pasta. I have seen recipes around that use double the amount of cream I use. It’s completely unnecessary and makes it sickeningly rich. If anyone tells me they don’t think this is rich enough, I’ll honestly fall off my chair. 🙂
I was 24 before I had my first Alfredo pasta. Seriously. My mother never, ever cooked with cream – it’s just not the done thing in Japanese home cooking! And now I believe to my very core that cooking with cream for midweek meals is just not acceptable. Which is why you see so many “creamy but made with no cream” recipes here on RecipeTin Eats. I grew up learning all the other ways to make creamy sauces other than using cream.
I think my mother will actually be quite shocked when she sees that I’m sharing an Alfredo pasta. And once she gets over that, the next thing she’ll do is send me an email asking me “who ate all that pasta?”. Hmph!
So I was well into my twenties before I tried Alfredo at a restaurant. Of course I loved it. I mean, who wouldn’t? All that creamy, buttery sauce coating every strand of pasta. Just. So. Good. And SO EASY to make (with just a few simple but critical tips 🙂 ).
So now that you know Alfredo is not as guilty an indulgence as you previously thought….on the menu for dinner this week? Just plonk some raw carrots on the side to make it a complete meal! 😉 Nagi x
PS Truly, this is what it should look like – each strand with sauce clinging to it, not swimming in cream sauce! The only way to achieve this thick glossy sauce that sticks to the pasta is with step 7 in the recipe – emulsifying. Learn it, love it, and use it for every pasta you make. 🙂
- 8 oz / 250g dried fettuccine
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small shallot , very finely minced (eschallot in Australia) (Note 1)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (Note 2)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano or parmesan (Notes 3 and 4)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Good grind of black pepper
- Fresh parsley (optional)
- Extra Parmigiano Reggiano
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente (still firm but just cooked through). (Note 5)
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a deep fry pan over medium high heat. (Note 6)
Add the shallots and sauté for 2 minutes or until tender.
Add the cream and bring to boil. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the fry pan from the heat and stir through the Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper until the sauce is smooth.
TAKE OUT 1/4 cup of pasta water PLUS scoop out an extra mug (extra, just in case). Then drain the pasta in a colander.
Transfer the pasta and 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water into the fry pan with the sauce. Return the fry pan to the stove over medium high heat. Toss very gently to coat the pasta in the sauce and allow the sauce to emulsify (Note 6) for 1 minute. (Note 7)
Remove from the stove and serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh parsley, if using.
1. What is referred to as shallots in America are called Eschallots in Australia. They look like tiny onions, but usually slightly longer. The flavour is stronger and sweeter than onions. You can substitute with brown or white onions - around 1/4 cup finely minced onion (you need more because onion is not as strong).
2. You can substitute with light cream for a lighter option. But it isn't the same!
3. Parmigiano Reggiano is a type of parmesan and is only made in Italy. The flavour is deeper, nuttier and stronger and even a little bit sweet. It is more expensive than parmesan cheese. You can substitute with parmesan cheese, but I really think that if there is ever a time to splurge on Parmigiano Reggiano, it's on a dish like this!
4. It is key that the Parmigiano Reggiano is FRESHLY and FINELY grated. Otherwise it won't melt into the cream and you'll end up with grainy sauce. Store bought grated cheese is too grainy, even from good delis. Trust me, I've made that mistake before.
5. However long the pasta packet suggests as the cooking time, subtract 1 minute for al dente because the pasta will continue cooking with the sauce. My fettuccine packet says 12 minutes so I boil it for 11 minutes.
6. You need a deep fry pan to cook pasta because the pasta is tossed with the sauce to emulsify (magic that happens with starch in pasta is cooked a bit with the oil in the sauce) which makes the pasta extra glossy, thick and rich. This is a key Italian tip for making amazing pastas!
If you don't have a large deep fry pan, use a very large pot.
7. The sauce should be silky smooth and a thin film should cling to each strand. The pasta should not be drowning in sauce. If the sauce goes gluey because you overcooked it or the heat is too high, just add a touch more of the pasta water (i.e. the extra mug of water you reserved) and it will go back to silky smooth.
8. Nutrition assuming 3 servings.
And to finish up…a peek into Dozer’s hard life. Morning at the beach (is it winter?!). Afternoon eyeing off the Alfredo pasta. Yes I managed to resist that face. Took a lot of will power! 🙂