From America's Test Kitchen Season 6: Classic Italian Dishes
Fettuccine Alfredo—tender pasta bathed in a silky, creamy cheese sauce—always sounds so tempting. But too often, restaurant-style fettuccine Alfredo means gargantuan portions, overcooked pasta, and a sauce that quickly congeals in the bowl (or your stomach). We were after a better Alfredo, with a luxurious sauce that remained supple and velvety from the first bite of pasta to the last.
We first discovered that fresh pasta was essential as a base—dried noodles didn’t hold on to the sauce, and the delicate nature of fresh pasta brought a more sophisticated tone to the dish. Turning our attention to the sauce, we found that a light hand was necessary when adding two of the richer ingredients: the cheese and the butter. Smaller amounts were sufficient to add distinctive flavor without being overwhelming. To manage the heavy cream, we reduced a portion of it, then added the remaining amount uncooked. This technique produced not only a luxurious texture but also a fresher flavor. A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg added a spicy, sweet undertone to this elegant dish.
Serves 4 to 6 as a first course
Fresh pasta is the best choice for this dish; supermarkets sell 9-ounce containers of fresh pasta in the refrigerator section (see related article for tasting results). When boiling the pasta, undercook it slightly (even shy of al dente) because the pasta cooks an additional minute or two in the sauce. Note that Fettuccine Alfredo must be served immediately; it does not hold or reheat well.