You can click here to jump directly to the recipe, though there are some words between here and there I hope you find useful.
SHOPPING / INGREDIENT LIST
- Della Terra Fresh Fettuccine or our Campanelle or Rigatoni
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Aged butter, European style
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
THE SATISFACTION OF SIMPLICITY
As a chef, I’ve come to appreciate the delight of simplicity. Simple doesn't mean easy; in fact, it can be difficult to hold back the impulse to create something a little over the top. This dish is all about restraint, and it is so worth it. When high quality artisan ingredients are combined in complementary ways, the results are satisfying and comforting.
Butter is often used in pasta as a way to make a sauce a little richer or smoother, and to provide more viscosity and bring the ingredients together. It’s much less often used as a central ingredient; however, in this dish it should shine. Look for one that is European style as they tend to be higher in fat content and are usually aged a little which provides a deeper, richer flavor. If you're able to get your hands on a butter made in Parma from the same cows that provide milk for Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese - that’s awesome!
- My quick list of butter.
- Regular unsalted butter is totally fine; it has a milder flavor and light texture.
- Plugra or Kerrigold are tasty, and provide a deeper and fuller flavor.
- Delitia, Beppino Occelli or similar quality small-producer butter has a meltiness, flavor, and mouthfeel that is extra special.
There is a reason why Parmigiano-Reggiano is considered the king of cheeses. It is slightly salty, slightly milky, slightly crumbly, boasts a well-balanced flavor, and its versatility makes it a great go-to cheese for many recipes. You can grate it, shred it, make peelings, crumble it, or melt it.
Properly aged parmesan provides a wonderful balance of crumbly texture and flavor. There are some big flavor and texture differences between an 18-month, 24-month, 3 year parmesan, but for most recipes, an 18-24 month aged parmesan is a great choice. My favorite is 24 month aged “Cravero”, which is from a mountain and hilly area near the town of Bra in northwest Italy. Not all parmesan is the same; keep these guidelines in mind when you're shopping:
- The rind should have “dots” that spell out Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Look for a piece that has “cheese crystals” which are white specks or patches easily visible on the cut side. Their presence indicates that the wheel was well-aged.
RECIPE FOR FETTUCCINE “ALFREDO” WITH BUTTER & PARMESAN
Serves 2 entree portions or 4 side portions.
PANS AND UTENSILS
- medium saute pan
- large pot
- long handle strainer/sieve
- wooden spoon
- 8 ounces fresh Della Terra Fettuccine* or 6 ounces Della Terra Campanelle
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- A few cracks of fresh black pepper
METHOD FOR THE SAUCE
Warm the pan over low heat. Right before the pasta is finished cooking add 1/4 cup of pasta water and the butter into the pan and swirl together.
METHOD FOR COOKING THE PASTA
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoons of kosher salt. Cook the pasta for the suggested time, tasting it at the lower number and cooking until the al dente meets your preference.
Using the sieve, remove the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce when it is ready.
COMPLETE THE DISH
Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce over low heat and stir to coat the pasta.
Stir in the parmesan and toss lightly. If the sauce seems tight, just add a splash or two of pasta water if needed to adjust the sauce consistency. It should coat the pasta well.
Transfer the pasta to the plate; tongs are fine to use to portion and serve the pasta.
Freshly grind black pepper and sprinkle remaining parmesan to finish the dish.
While the recipe was written with our Fresh Fettuccine in mind, our Campanelle or Rigatoni also work well. If you substitute dry pasta, you'll want to adjust the pasta weight to 6 ounces for the recipe as written. If you are preparing 4 full entree portions, just double every ingredient and use larger pots/pans.
I can’t believe there isn’t any cream in this recipe. Maybe there isn’t supposed to be, and Alfredo has become “Americanized.” I’ve wondered about Kerrygold. Thank you for letting me know it’s worth it. Also, for explaining about recognizing real Parmigiano Reggiano.