Swirl of spinach fettuccine on a plate with fork and pecorino cheese in the background.
Photography, Food Styling & Art Direction: Anthony Contrino

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 the Americanized-version of 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 used to 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!

Swirl of spinach fettuccine on a plate with fork and pecorino cheese in the background.

5-Minute Fettuccine Alfredo

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
 

  • 12 ounces spinach fettuccine
  • ¾ cup pecorino cheese, grated, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream

Instructions
 

  • Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a rolling boil.
  • Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cheese, flour and pepper until combined.
  • In a high-sided skillet, bring the heavy cream to a gentle simmer, over medium-high heat.
  • Add the cheese mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Allow the cream to return to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Season with salt, to taste, if necessary.
  • Add the fettuccine to the sauce and toss to combine.
  • Add the reserved pasta water, as needed, until you achieve a creamy, velvety sauce.
  • Serve immediately with some grated pecorino and freshly ground pepper.
Course: Pasta
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino