For this dish we prefer dry fettucine noodles to freshly made because the pasta holds up better to the sauce. The instructions assume that you are using dry noodles. If you use fresh, adjust timing accordingly.
For the classic version:
- 1/2 pound dry fettuccine pasta
- 3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Black pepper
Additional ingredients for the creamy version:
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Ground nutmeg
1 Start the pasta: Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and drop in your fettuccine.
2a For the classic version: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat off.
2b For the creamy version: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan set over low heat. Add the cream to the butter as it melts. Stir often to combine the two, keeping the heat at its lowest setting while the pasta cooks.
3 Swirl pasta in the pan with butter: When the fettuccine is al dente (cooked, but still a little firm) lift it out of the pot with tongs and move the pasta to the sauté pan. Do not drain the pasta. You want it dripping wet with the cooking water.
Turn on the heat under the sauté pan to medium and swirl the pasta and butter together to combine.
4 Incorporate the cheese: Add half the cheese, then swirl and toss the pasta until it has incorporated into the sauce.
If needed, add a few spoonfuls more of the pasta cooking water. Add the rest of the cheese and repeat.
5 Sprinkle with black pepper and/or nutmeg: Serve at once with either a little black pepper (for classic version) and/or ground nutmeg (for creamy version) over the pasta.
Leftovers keep for 3 to 5 days in the fridge, covered.