The Expert-Approved Upgrade To Make Your Fettuccine Alfredo Restaurant-Worthy

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When it comes to Italian cuisine, there are two distinct camps. Italian food (emanating from the motherland herself) tends to rely on simple techniques and fresh ingredients, whereas American-Italian food often reflects a more creative and playful approach. In relation to fettuccine Alfredo, however, there's no need for showy alterations. According to Danny Freeman, author of "Danny Loves Pasta", the secret to the perfect fettuccine Alfredo recipe lies in the cheese.

Because fettuccine Alfredo is far more popular in the U.S. than it is in Italy, many assume the dish is an American-Italian creation. Yet in an exclusive interview with Mashed, Freeman explained that the dish was actually born in Italy – however, the recipe was much more straightforward than the one employed by most American-Italian eateries today.

"When fettuccine Alfredo was invented in Rome over 100 years ago it was made with just butter and parmesan cheese," Freeman explained. "So selecting high-quality ingredients is very important." Because the cheese acts as the dish's main flavoring agent, you don't want to use just any old Parmesan cheese. When aiming to make a truly restaurant-worthy fettuccine Alfredo, Freeman says, "Make sure you buy cheese labeled Parmigiano-Reggiano, not simply Parmesan."

It's all in the cheese, baby

Parmigiano-Reggiano, which only comes from a specific region in Italy, uses ingredients local to the manufacturer and is aged for a minimum of a year. As such, it tends to be richer and more flavorful than American-made Parmesan cheese, which is sometimes a mere imitation. To ensure you're getting regulated Parmigiano Reggiano, Freeman says, "Look for the letters DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) stamped on the cheese rind."

Like many traditional Italian dishes, fettuccine Alfredo got an American makeover as immigrants adapted recipes to fit their surroundings. People eventually began using ingredients like cream, flour, and cream cheese. Because the cream combines with the cheese to create a thick gooey sauce, this version is often a good match for American sensibilities. Freeman says that if you plan on using cream in your fettuccine Alfredo, "Make sure you add the ingredients slowly so they can emulsify into a creamy sauce."