First invented by the Roman chef after whom the dish is named, it consists of just pasta, parmigiano and butter.
- Boil the fettuccine in salted water until al dente, this is firm, not undercooked, but not too soft.
- Warm the butter in a large bowl to a little more than room temperature, making it soft and easy to spread.
- Grate the cheese into fine, small chunks. If the cheese is slightly dry, sprinkle a few drops of the water used to boil the pasta into the bowl with the cheese.
- Drop the still hot pasta over the butter, add the cheese and toss vigorously. Stir until the pasta is well coated with the soft, gooey mixture. Cover and let sit for a couple of minutes.
The butter can be done any number of ways, but one easy method is to add a small amount of water to a ceramic bowl, then microwave. Then add room temperature butter to the heated bowl.
Take care not to overdo it, though. Microwaves can be damaged if the bowl becomes dry and there's no remaining water to heat.
- For a delightful variation, add a teaspoon of garlic powder to the mix and stir in well. For the true iconoclast, substituting a bit of pecorino romano cheese for the parmigiano is an option. To spice it up just a bit, sprinkle a dash of cayenne pepper into the bowl and work it in.
- For a thicker sauce, simmer butter, garlic powder and two cups of heavy whipping cream in a saucepan for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Other variations include using a bit of cream cheese to thicken the mixture still further. Blue cheese (about four ounces, crumbled) has even been used instead.
- For a lighter sauce, substitute milk for the cream.
- For a seasoning variation, a bit of basil can be added to the mixture.
Use fresh pasta when possible. Make your own fresh Italian noodles for the best fresh pasta.