Rachel Roddy's recipe for fettuccine with butter and parmesan

It couldn't be simpler or more tempting: just melt the butter and flip, flip, flip for the ultimate comfort food

One day, I read a long, detailed recipe for ravioli that is filled with meat like a paté and served with a reduced layer of meat. It was so detailed, and in such tiny handwriting, that - like a novel with multiple characters and a complicated plot - I had to keep doubling back to remind myself what had happened. Recipes and reading feel like hard work. Until the last line, which is like a skip, and suggests that the leftover ravioli be boiled, tossed with butter and Parmesan, and eaten by the cook.

I was sitting at my desk with a hot water bottle in my lap, and my mouth was watering. Not for ravioli, but for scraps and chunks — maltagliati, or "bad chunks" — some are thicker than others, because they've been folded or twisted, making them better collectors of butter and grated parmesan. Unfortunately, however, eating leftover ravioli immediately involves making the ravioli in the first place, and I wouldn't be doing it at 11:45 a.m. on a Tuesday (or ever, in the case of this particular recipe), but I do have a polystyrene tray of fresh fettuccine in the freezer (which I don't think I'll be able to do that at all). it needs to thaw), so I put a pot of water to a boil and took out the grater.

In the extreme – that is, 200g of unsalted unsalted butter and 450g of grated Parmesan over 24 months for every 450g of pasta – Alfredo fettuccine, or simply Alfredo, as it is served at the Roman restaurant Alfredo alla Scrofa on Via della Scrofa, is something extraordinary. Oretta Zanini at Vita and American author Maureen Fant have versions (straight from the restaurant, it seems) in their book Sauces & Forms: Pasta the Italian Way. They warn against taking too many liberties with quantity, or the consistency won't be right. My version, the memo calls for, is not Alfredo. This is fettuccine (or tagliatelle) with butter and parmesan. It's also inspired by my landlord Giuliana, who is convinced that no pasta with cheese and fat (cacio e pepe, parmesan and butter, or guanciale and pecorino) requires technique. Just drop it into the bowl and – he imitates two forks, moving his arms up and down excitedly – giri, giri, giri, spin, spin, spin.

For each person, I suggest 150g of fresh fettuccine, leftover tagliatelle or ravioli (or 110g dry), 25g of butter, two tablespoons (about 30g) of grated parmesan and lots of black pepper. After mentioning the beauty and relief of the simple instructions (and my neighbor's suggestion), I hope I haven't invalidated it by writing more than one sentence – or, indeed, by offering a variation with a second method that involves a frying pan.

Butter and parmesan are roundabout foods, in my opinion. What I mean by that is the complex nature of the fat and its full flavor make it stick around and swirl in your mouth in the most satisfying way possible, even when you're eating fast. Even more so if they stick to long ribbons of pasta, which is something they do well. What's more, even though they're both melted, the crystalline nature of parmesan makes things a little gritty, which is always a good thing. Happy New Year!

  • Fettuccine with butter and parmesan
  • Preparation 2 min
  • Cook 10 minutes
  • Serving 2
  • 300g fresh fettuccine or tagliatelle, or 220g dry
  • 50g butter
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • Black pepper
Method 1

While the pasta is cooking in the salted water, dice the butter, divide it between two warm bowls and mash it a bit. When the pasta is ready, drain it, divide it among bowls and stir. Divide the Parmesan between bowls, grind a little pepper and use two forks to stir.

Method 2

While the pasta is cooking in salted water, melt the butter in a skillet. When the pasta is ready, drain it and put it in the pan, stirring it until every ribbon glistens. Divide between two bowls, sprinkle each with two tablespoons of grated Parmesan and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, stir again and eat.

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