I was curious to find out exactly what fettuccine Alfredo is. I’ve frequently heard it mentioned in American TV shows and movies, but I’ve never found anyone in Italy who has heard of it. So I did a little research and came up with this.
Fettuccine dressed with butter and parmesan has been eaten for hundreds of years in Italy. The story goes that in 1914 Alfredo di Lelio
had the bright idea to add a lot more butter. Apparently he thought it might help his heavily pregnant wife keep her lunch down. Just what you need when you’re feeling queasy, half a pound of butter 😉 With the help of a bit of nifty PR (courtesy of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford), the dish became popular in the US. Alfredo’s restaurant still exists in Rome and enjoys a great deal of custom from American tourists. Alfredo’s now also has three restaurants in the states. Over the years American chefs have amended the recipe to include cream.
This is the original recipe from Alfredo’s restaurant. The recipe is for 4 portions, but it’s sooo heavy, I reckon 6 would be nearer the mark.
By the way, it does taste very nice, but I think I can feel my arteries hardening as I type 🙂
Lasagne Bolognese. There isn’t one authentic recipe for lasagne Bolognese, but there are lots of things you can do to make an inauthentic one. One of my friends in Bari is still in shock from the time he was served a lasagne in Newcastle which included sweetcorn 🙂
Sweetcorn aside, the main difference between lasagne Bolognese served in Italy and those commonly served in other countries is that the Italians use far less cheese and usually have only about four layers of pasta.
This recipe uses fresh homemade pasta. I really recommend trying it with fresh lasagne, you’ll really notice the difference. The next best choice would be shop bought fresh lasagne, then dried egg lasagne which you need to precook and last, and definitly least, dried lasagne that needs no precooking. Serves 4-6
Roll out the pasta into sheets. They need to be a little thicker than for tagliatelle. On my pasta machine I use the setting which is two up from the thinnest.
Cut the pasta into rectangles which are roughly 10cm by 8cm.
Cook the lasagne, a few at a time, in plenty of salted boiling water. About 2-3 minutes. If you add a little oil to the water it helps to stop them sticking together. Drain and lay them on a damp tea towel.
Grease a lasagne dish with a little butter.
Arrange a layer of lasagne on the bottom of the dish. Spread one third of the ragù on top, spoon on some white sauce and sprinkle with a little cheese. Dot with some of the butter. Cover with a layer of lasagne.
Repeat until you have used all of the ragù, finishing with a layer of lasagne. Cover with the rest of the white sauce.
Bake in an oven preheated to 200°C for 30 minutes. Be careful not to let the top get too brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before dividing into portions.
Fresh filled pasta takes a bit of time to prepare, but it’s really not that difficult, especially if you have a pasta machine. Ravioli are probably the least fiddly to make, but tortellini look more impressive 😉 . Once you’ve made the first couple it gets easier. This recipe comes from Accademia Italiana della cucina. It was registered with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce on the 7th of December 1974. An authentic tortellino bolognese must have the following filling. Makes about 800g or 100 tortellini.
100g loin of pork
100g mortadella sausage (It MUST come from Bologna of course 🙂 )
100g parma ham (actually, they don’t specify that it has to come from Parma.It seems any raw ham will do)
Fresh pasta is actually very easy to make. It’s just flour and eggs. It takes a bit of effort, but if you invest in a pasta machine it’s a piece of cake. One misconception that a lot of people have is that pasta should always be made with durum wheat flour. Durum is used mainly for dry commercially produced pasta, such as spaghetti. Some fresh pastas made without egg, for example orecchiette, are made with durum flour. Fresh egg pasta should be made with normal white flour, preferably finely ground ’00’ grade. Allow 100g of flour and 1 egg per person. Serves 4
400 grams plain white flour (pref type ’00’)
4 medium eggs
Pile the flour in a volcano-shaped mound on a work surface
Break the eggs into the centre.
Stir the eggs into the flour with a fork and then with you hands until it forms a coarse paste.
Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic (or pass it through the rollers of the pasta machine several times at the widest setting)
Let the dough rest for about 30 mins, covered with a cloth.
Roll the pasta out as thinly as possible for ravioli etc. Fettuccine and other ribbon noodles should be a little thicker. (Thinnest setting on the machine for ravioli, second thinnest for fettuccine etc)
To cut ribbon shaped noodle, loosely roll up the sheets of pasta and cut to the desired thickness.
Shake the rolls out onto a board and leave to dry for about 10 minutes before cooking.