It all began with a dude named Alfredo di Lelio who was running a restaurant called Alfredo alla Scrofa.
In an attempt to provide sustenance to his pregnant wife, Alfredo di Lelio had the brain flash of adding more butter to an existing traditional Italian recipe known as fettucini al burro (fettucini with butter). It seems that fettucini al burro only added butter twice during preparation, and this just wasn't cutting it for di Lelio's wife. Alfredo wisely added a third round of butter and made his wife (and much of the Western world) very happy.
In its original Italian incarnation, Alfredo sauce was made of just butter and Parmesan cheese. Most Americans, however, (myself included) are used to Alfredo sauce being a velvety white concoction that is based on a cream sauce or white sauce. I've always made Fettucini Alfredo using a white sauce (and my wife has liked it quite a lot, especially when pregnant). So this recipe is American-style...
- 3 Cups basic white sauce (see my recipe for gluten free basic white sauce)
- 2 Cups grated Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- 1/4 Cup dry white wine (like Chardonnay)
- A pound or so of large raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined (sizes 11-15 or 16-20 per pound are best)
- A pound or so of gluten free fettucini pasta (Use Tinkyada brand, everything else tastes like cardboard)
- 1/2 Cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 Cup minced or crushed garlic
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
basic white sauce, and then begin incorporating the grated Parmesan cheese into it slowly—one small handful at a time. The white sauce should be near boiling (but not actually boiling) while you incorporate the cheese. Make sure all cheese has melted before you add the next handful. Don't rush this step... if you do you'll get congealed Parmesan blobs instead of a thick, creamy sauce. As long as the white sauce is nice and hot, you can keep slowly adding Parmesan. This step may take 20 minutes or more. Parmesan is the primary flavor source of this dish, so don't skimp!
Once the white sauce is flavorful and cheesy, add salt and pepper to taste (the salt will boost and brighten the flavor from the Parmesan cheese). Also add a tiny dash of nutmeg to the sauce at this time. Nutmeg adds a touch of refinement to an Alfredo sauce, similar to how wine adds refinement to many other sauces and dishes. Something about the nutmeg's gentle spice helps round out the creamy Parmesan flavor of Fettucini Alfredo. Trust me.
Once the pasta is done, drain it and then oil it lightly to prevent sticking. Put it back in the pot you boiled it in to keep warm until you're ready for it.
Shrimp go from raw to overcooked and rubbery very quickly. You have a bit more leeway with larger shrimp, but even so you'll need to be careful and move quickly. As with most cooked seafood, you'll be pulling the shrimp when they are still slightly under-cooked on the inside. By the time they get into the dish and onto people's plates, the shrimp will be cooked perfectly.
The shrimp finale goes like this:
Pour the Alfredo sauce into your fettucini, and stir things around a bit to combine thoroughly. If for some reason things are out of balance and you are short on sauce, add milk or cream, and more salt to stretch it a bit. Make sure the pasta and sauce are hot enough to serve. If you're using a serving dish, you may want to warm it up so it doesn't cool the finished pasta down.
large stainless steel saute pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. You want about 1/8 inch of oil in the bottom of the pan. Let the pan heat until the oil is shimmering and watery, which will probably take 5-7 minutes.
Once the pan has come up to heat (note: you're now about 3 minutes from serving the dish), add the shrimp, garlic, and onion. Heat the shrimp on one side until they are pink, which will take between 45 seconds and 1 minute. Flip each shrimp individually, and move them around to ensure even heating (the shrimp in the center of the pan will cook more quickly than those at the edges).
Stir around the onions and garlic for another 30 seconds or so to finish them off. Hopefully at this point you have some nice browning on the bottom of the pan, and the onions and garlic are starting to caramelize.
Viva Alfredo di Lelio!