I’m ecstatic that Saveur’s Editor in Chief James Oseland is our guest blogger today.
James edited the recently released Saveur: The New Comfort Food, the fourth cookbook Chronicle’s published with the award-winning magazine. It’s a tour de force collection of the best comfort food recipes from all over the world.
What’s your favorite food of comfort? Have a photo of it to share with us? Leave a comment on James’ post and you’ll be eligible to win a copy I’ll be rewarding to a random lucky person. Good luck!
For diners whose experience of fettuccine Alfredo has been limited to the four-cheese, flour-thickened, super-saucy variety found in chain Italian restaurants, the real deal is a genuine revelation.
Invented in Rome in the early 1900s by the restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio, it’s so simple that when we first made it in the Saveur test kitchen a few years ago, I didn’t think it would work. It’s literally one of the easiest recipes in the entire universe.
You slice two sticks of butter into pats and dot them around a serving platter. You spread the pasta (al dente dried fettuccine works best) atop the butter. You toss it…and toss it…and toss it, gradually adding heaps of parmesan cheese.
And then you eat it. Or rather: And then you scarf it with reckless abandon. The dish is a testimony to the quiet alchemy of sauce-making. There’s no roux, no precise timing, no day-long simmer. Yet the glorious emulsion that forms from all that tossing IS a sauce—oh, and what a sauce it is.
With a dusting of cracked pepper atop the pasta, and a side salad of bitter, young greens, fettuccine Alfredo as Mr. Di Lelio used to make it is quite possibly the perfect meal.
Mixing the ingredients on a warmed platter will help them melt quickly to make a satiny sauce. For the best results, use dried pasta, which doesn’t break as easily during tossing as fresh egg pasta does.
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. dried fettuccine
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into thin pats
3 1/4 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, place butter pats on a large, warmed serving platter. Drain pasta, reserving 3/4 cup pasta water, and place the pasta over the butter on the platter.
2. Sprinkle Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly over pasta and drizzle with 1/4 cup reserved pasta water. Using a large spoon and fork, gently toss the pasta with the butter and cheese, lifting and swirling the noodles and adding more pasta water as necessary to create a smooth sauce. Work in any melted butter and cheese that pools around the edges of the platter. Continue mixing pasta until the cheese and butter have fully melted and the noodles are coated, about 3 minutes. (For a quicker preparation, bring the reserved ¾ cup pasta water and the butter to a boil in a 12-inch skillet, and then add the pasta, sprinkle with the cheese, and toss with tongs over medium-low heat until the pasta is creamy and coated, about 2 minutes.)
3. Serve the fettuccine immediately on warmed plates.
Purchase Saveur: The New Comfort Food.
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