When Alfredo di Lelio created this sauce for his wife it was made with butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It became popular in the US when two Hollywood stars brought the recipe back to the states in the 1920's (supposedly Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks). The recipe had to be adapted in the US because the butter and cheese available in the States was not as rich as that available in Italy, so chefs in the US added heavy cream to compensate. In Italy the name Fettuccine Alfredo is not used; they call it fettuccine al burro. And, in our household for this meal it is Ravioli Alfredo since Lovey wanted ravioli with an Alfredo sauce; so that's just what he got. I let him have his way quite often.
The best dishes are made with the simplest of ingredients.
Add the lemon zest and the freshly grated nutmeg. Once these are combined, remove the pan from the heat.
Now, is that not simple? In the meantime you are cooking your pasta. I did not make my ravioli. Central Market has some excellent fresh ravioli. The author of the cookbook I lifted this Alfredo recipe from makes a very important point. Because this sauce has such rich ingredients, a dried pasta will not hold up to them. Fresh pasta, whatever the shape, is a must.
Lemon Alfredo Sauce
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis' Everyday Italian
Serves 6 First-Course Servings
1-1/2 cups heavy cream - divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 to 2 tsp. grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
12 Ravioli or 9 ounces of other pasta
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper, plus more to taste
Mise en place:
- Measure out cream divided - 1 cup and 1/2 cup
- wash lemon, dry well and zest
- juice lemon
- grate nutmeg
- grate Parmesan
In a large, heavy skillet, stir 1 cup of the cream and the lemon juice to blend. Add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, just until the butter melts, about 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and grated nutmeg. Pull skillet off heat.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the ravioli or other pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes with ravioli but only about 4 minutes with other pasta. Drain. Add the ravioli, the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, the Parmesan, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Transfer the ravioli to wide, shallow serving bowls and serve immediately.