Monday, June 21, 2010
Fettucini Alfredo My Way
Here's the pure and simple way to make a great Fettucini Alfredo...
Grind a pound of Parmesan cheese as finely as you can, and set it aside.
Take about a pound of dry fettucini and cook it in a pot of lightly boiling water until it's just shy of chewy, meaning it's "al dente" -- as in, chewy.
Okay, while the water is coming to a boil and the fettucini is getting to the al dente point, Melt 6 or 7 tablespoons of fresh, unsalted sweet butter in a saucepan. The burner should be just on the hot side of medium, but watch that the butter doesn't scorch.
You might want to add a minced shallot or some mashed up garlic -- never both, it's either one or the other or none -- at the same time that you add about a cup of heavy cream ... you will eventually learn exactly how much to add to make it come out exactly right. Bring the whole mix to a boil, and reduce the sauce until it is just a bit thicker, about two to four minutes worth of stirring and watching, then remove the pot from the burner and set it aside.
You'll want to drain the fettucini, but not too dry -- leave it a bit wettish, and then replace it in the pot. Pour in your piping hot butter and garlic sauce from the saucepan, and add a half pound or so of the finely grated Parmesan to the fettucini, and stir it gently to melt the cheese, then add the other half pound in and stir it gently again, but only enough to thoroughly mix it in. Whatever cheese has melted is good, and unmelted cheese is also good on top of that. Serve the mixture directly onto a small salad flat-plate.
After you've served the mixture out of the stirring pot into the salad style flat dishes, only at this time will you add a bit of fresh ground pepper from a peppermill, and some garnish might be nice for appearance, which could be a sprig of parsley or some green. To me, presentation is equal to the food itself.
Now, that's all there is to a great Fetuccini Alfredo, and anybody who tells you different is selling something. The real secret is in learning, over time and with experience, exact proportions, time of cooking at each step, especially the pasta part, and the precise point at which to stop mixing and start serving. Getting the plate out there to the diner is significantly important, speed of service is the major issue. Fettucini is best served piping hot. You'll figure out the timing at some point, and then you'll see what I mean. It's all in the balance between cooking the sauce and cooking the Fettucini so they both end up on the table scalding hot.