Ree Drummond, the woman behind The Pioneer Woman, has a simple fettucine alfredo recipe that uses one stick of butter, one cup of heavy cream, two cups of Parmesan, salt and black pepper. Giada de Laurentiis expands on the basic recipe by adding lemon juice and zest, and nutmeg.
To make fettucine alfredo as flavorful as possible while keeping the recipe light, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats recommends grating roughly 5 ounces of real Parmigiano-Reggiano for every pound of pasta. To maintain the rich and creamy taste without using an entire cup of cream or butter, Lopez-Alt suggests combining 1 1/2 cups pasta water with small amounts of heavy cream and butter.
Fettucine alfredo, also known as fettuccine al burro, fettuccine burro e parmigiano or pasta in bianco, traces its origins to 1914, writes Kimberly Kohatsu for The Huffington Post. Alfredo di Lelio made simple, plain pasta for his pregnant wife and eventually began serving the dish in his restaurant, where Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford carried the recipe to the United States. They gifted di Lelio with a golden fork and spoon and raved to reporters about "Alfredo's fettucine," attracting tourists to Alfredo's restaurant.
In 1977, di Lelio and a partner opened Il Vero Alfredo in New York City, reports Kohatsu. Along with another location in Italy, the restaurant standardized and formalized alfredo sauce, with variations including shrimp, chicken, different cheeses, flour, cream or milk.