Fettuccine Alfredo began as regular fettuccine al burro until the Roman restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio enriched it with a double and a triple dose of butter for his pregnant wife, who could not keep anything down. The dish was so delicious he kept it on the menu of his restaurant, Alfredo all Scrofa, in Rome. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks had it during their 1920 honeymoon trip to Rome, loved it, brought the recipe back, and served it to their friends when they returned to Hollywood. And so another Italian came to America. Fettuccine Alfredo has most certainly been eaten more in the States than in Italy since then. The dish is used as the base for many different versions, topped with shrimp, broccoli, asparagus, and more. Since butter separated readily when heated, cream is added to make the sauce creamier. In this version, I also add a few leaves of sage, since sage and butter are a marriage made in heaven.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta pot
- 1 pound dried fettuccine
- 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- ½ cup grated Grana Padano
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. When you are ready to begin the sauce, slip the fettuccine into the water.Combine the cream, 1 cup pasta cooking water, the butter, sage, and half of the grated cheese in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir to melt the butter and bring just a simmer. Let simmer lightly for a minute or two, so the cream infuses the sage leaves.When the fettuccine is al dente, transfer it directly to the skillet with the simmering sauce. Season with the salt and return to a simmer. Simmer, tossing with the tongs, just until the sauce begins to coat the pasts, another minute or two. Remove from heat, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese, and toss. Serve immediately.