Five Minute Alfredo / by Anthony Michael Contrino

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As with most sauces originating from Italy, the early version of what we call an Alfredo sauce, is not what we Americans are accustomed to.   A twist on cacio e pepe (starch water, pecorino, and pepper,) the authentic(ish) version of Alfredo, called fettuccine al burro (with butter) is made with a generous portion of butter melted with parmesan.  

Where the version made with cream originated is not entirely certain.  My guess is that, like with carbonara, some American just added a ton of cream to make it even more unhealthy.  

Now, while I'll throw a hissy fit if my carbonara is thickened with cream instead of eggs, I like my Alfredo swimming in thick, velvety cream sauce.  I would normally reduce the cream for 40 minutes or so to get the right consistency, but I either grew lazier or smarter, and now use a little flour to speed the process.  This sauce really does come together in minutes, but unfortunately I can’t make the pasta cook sooner!


12 ounces spinach fettuccine, cooked just short of al dente in salted water; reserve 1 cup of pasta water

3/4 cup pecorino cheese, grated, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons flour

Salt, to taste, if necessary

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

  1. In a small bowl, mix the cheese, flour and pepper.

  2. Add the heavy cream to a high-sided skillet and bring to a gentle simmer, over medium-high heat.

  3. Add the cheese mixture and whisk to combine.

  4. Allow the cream to return to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

  5. Season with salt, as needed.

  6. Add the cooked fettuccine to the sauce and toss to combine..

  7. Add reserved pasta water, as needed, until you achieve a creamy, velvety sauce.

  8. Serve immediately with a some grated pecorino and freshly ground pepper.