Real Alfredo to End the Year

The year’s done! The holidays are done! It’s all over and I’m tired. So tonight I’m making Alfredo, the easiest and best pasta dish I know. Way back in our primordial darkness, before our milk was full of sugar and our meat was full of corn, before everything got all cluttered up with cream and roux, Alfredo was a simple sauce of butter, cheese and pasta water. That’s how I like to make it, simple and relaxing at the end of a frantic season.

Thanks for a great year.  We’re very grateful for all the kindness we’ve received. We’re very grateful for our family and all our friends, both old and new. Great luck to you and yours in 2011 and beyond!

Pasta Alfredo

No silly cream or roux here


  • 1 lb pasta, fresh or dry
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 lb fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (really, nothing else will do)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt to taste


Cook pasta in vigorously boiling, well salted water. While pasta is cooking add the butter, pepper and some salt to a large mixing bowl. Spoon the finished pasta directly into the bowl and mix, melting the butter and combining the ingredients. Add the cheese and 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Stir for a couple minutes until a creamy, velvet sauce forms.

Some interesting things about this recipe:
  • Pasta water is fantastic! It contains some residual starch that combines with the fat in the butter to thicken this sauce. The chemistry is similar to using a roux but it’s much more elegant.
  • Parmigiana-Reggiano is a a part-skim milk cheese and thus is apt to curdle when heated. To minimize this make sure the butter coats the noodles well. Fat  tempers part skim dairy items and helps prevent curdling.

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