Fettuccine al Burro


I didn’t grow up with Italian cuisine, which is interesting, considering my French mother cooked various global cuisines over the years, like Ethiopian and Chinese, as well as French. Somehow, Italian got overlooked.

It could have been on purpose now that I think of it. Her first husband, my father, was from Sicily. That marriage didn’t end well.

Fortunately, thanks to the comprehensive Time-Life Foods of the world set of cookbooks that my mother gave me when I got married, I gradually learned about the world of Italian cuisine.

My exploration taught me quickly that the cuisine was not anything like Americanized Italian food that I’d experienced at “bad” Italian restaurants.

Creating Osso Buco and Scaloppine al Marsala, and discovering pesto, were revelations. But one recipe really stood out in “The Cooking of Italy” cookbook, and that was Fettuccine al Burro.

It was and is still for me one of those “to die for” recipes. Practically equal parts butter, cream and cheese melted into fettuccine. What’s not to love?

This recipe is probably what’s better known as Alfredo sauce, but I’ll always call it by the name I first learned, which translates to fettuccine in butter.

Fettuccine al Burro
Egg Noodles with Butter and Cheese
Slightly adapted

8 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus a little more
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
12 ounces fettuccine
1 canned white truffle, sliced very thin, optional
Extra freshly grated Parmesan

Cream the softened butter by beating it vigorously against the sides of a large, heavy bowl with a wooden spoon until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the cream a little at a time, and then, a few tablespoons at a time, beat in 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Set aside.

Bring the water and salt to a bubbling boil in a large soup pot. Drop in the fettuccine and stir it gently with a wooden fork for a few moments to prevent the strands from sticking to one another.

Boil over high heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender. Use the package instructions for guidance.

Immediately drain the fettuccine into a colander then transfer it at once to the bowl the toss until every strand is well coated.

Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. I use white pepper.

Stir in the optional truffle, if using. I know for a fact that 30+ years ago I never used truffles because I was pretty confused as to why one would put chocolate in pasta!!! I also could never have afforded them…

Serve the fettuccine at once.

Pass the extra grated cheese in a separate bowl.

If the fettuccine dries up a little before serving, add a little more cream, cover the bowl, and let the pasta sit.

Some day it would be fun to add some lovely slices of white truffle to this pasta, but it’s certainly rich and satisfying as is.

note: I typically buy a 4-5 pound chunk of Parmesan Reggiano at Whole Foods and store it for when I need to freshly grate some. For some odd reason, this really irks them, and I have no idea why. But how people can be happy with little 3 ounces plastic-wrapped chunks of Parmesan that are obviously cut along the rind is beyond me. So I break down my large chunk when I get home, store it in cheese bags, and grate as needed.

I love this gadget that I got at Amazon, of course, and it’s easier on the hands than a traditional grater. It’s a manual rotary cheese grater with 3 different graters. Just FYI.

39 thoughts on “Fettuccine al Burro

  1. One of my favorite pasta dishes to make and eat and one I prefer not to order in a restaurant. I’ve not tried Fettuccine al Burro or Alfredo with truffles. I’m not a fan of truffle oil, but would give shaved black truffle a try. A real tummy warming dish and one you prepared well.

    • Restaurants can certainly ruin “Alfredo” sauces. Maybe they make them more for children than adults with discriminating taste.

  2. Growing up in an all Italian-American family, we would always have a pasta in Bolognese sauce served right next to a big bowl of pasta in butter/cheese! I’m now at a point where I’ll pass on the red sauced pasta and dig right into what we call ‘white sauced’ pasta. It’s a comfort food that I turn to. And so easy! I enjoyed your photo instructions too, Mimi!
    Buon Natale,

    • I only learned about Elizabeth David after following blogs from the UK. She was never popular here, at least as far as I know. But I’ve only heard wonderful things about her cookbooks.

  3. This is a dish I could “die for” too – I might kick it up a bit with some shrimp and then I really would be in heaven. I have some truffle oil in my pantry (forgot what I bought it for) and never have cooked with truffles. Sounds like an ingredient I need to further investigate…

    • I’ve never cooked with truffles either. I have truffle salt and truffle butter and truffle oil, though. But boy do I order them in restaurants. One restaurant in NYC (NoMad) came over to my daughter and I and introduced us to the truffle that was going to be used on our pasta that night!

  4. I don’t know if you have Costco where you live but they have large pieces of Parmesan cheese . You’re right, your pastor is to die for.

    • No. ☹️ But if I want to drive, I can get to one. I really really despise those 3 OUNCE pieces of Parmesan that stores sell. You’re getting better? In time for Christmas?!!!

  5. Such gorgeous pictures in this post, Mimi!!!! worthy of a cooking magazine!

    Let me wish you Happy HOlidays before time goes by quickly and I miss the boat! ;-)

    • Holiday prep. Gah. And I don’t even have kids at home anymore! But I do love the cooking part. I can’t deny that. Happy holidays to you and yours!

  6. I Totally Agree – What’s not to love about this recipe??!! How could you ever go wrong with butter, cream and cheese mixed with fettuccini. Mmmmmm! You’ve got my mouth watering for this dish now. Thanks for sharing!

  7. A dish that is sublime when done well! Thanks for this share, I didn’t know about beating the butter! And I love the hint about the Parmesan. I do hate having to buy the little triangles! Even worse, I hate it when I see ppl buy the pregrated stuff! I think I need cheese bags!!

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