Happy National Fettuccine Alfredo Day!

Italian restaurateur Alfredo di Lelio created Fettuccine Alfredo in 1914 to help his wife regain her appetite after the birth of their first son, and it worked! Soon after he began serving it at his restaurant in Rome. Today, it’s one of the most popular pasta dishes in America, and the invention of the dish is commemorated on February 7 with National Fettuccine Alfredo Day.

Fettuccine Alfredo supposedly became popular in the United States when Hollywood stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks dined at Di Lelio’s restaurant while on their honeymoon. They spread the word when they returned to America.

And, of course…everything’s better with bacon, right?

If you don’t believe that…this recipe will convert you!

Guanciale (gwan-chalie), an Italian-style bacon made from hog jowl, is a prized gourmet delicacy in central Italy. Typically, it’s dry-cured, hand-coated with fresh cracked peppercorns, then smoked over smoldering hickory logs for nearly 24 hours. The result is a meat with a noticeably richer flavor than typical bacon, and is a popular addition to such classic dishes as spaghetti alla carbonara and pasta all’amatriciana.

I found it with the uncut bacon, and smoked hocks, at Fred Meyer, for about 1/2 the price of good bacon (about $2.50/lb).

Here’s what I do with it:

Grilled Chicken and Guanciale Bacon Alfredo

2 pound dried fettucine
1/2 lb chicken tenders, brined and grilled
1/2 lb pork cheeks (jowls) bacon, or Guanciale
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs yolks
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 350d

Slice guanciale into 1/2 inch thick slices and place on a rack over a a foil-lined baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes until bacon appears crisp at the edges. Remove to paper towels to rest.

Cook the fettuccine in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. Drain in a colander, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. NEVER RINSE YOUR PASTA.

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender, add garlic. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Cook until sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Roughly chop bacon and chicken (tenders can be re-warmed slightly in microwave).

Return the pasta to the pot it was cooked in, set over medium-high heat along with the reserved cooking liquid. Add the butter-cream mixture, half of the asiago, bacon, and chicken, and toss to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sprinkle with remaining asiago and garnish with raw egg yolk, if desired.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

NOTE: We made this recipe again last night, with (at my daughter’s request) tri-color spiral pasta. Turned out very nice, and, for a 4 y/o, a lot less messy!

PS – The raw egg yolk is another Italian thing, and adds an extra layer of richness to the recipe. Once served, break the yolk and gently fold into the dish. Alternatively, you can add the yolks to the pasta along with the sauce and blend it in then.

3 thoughts on “Happy National Fettuccine Alfredo Day!

  1. HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO”
    With reference of your article of today we have the pleasure to tell you the history of our grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, creator of “fettuccine all’Alfredo” (recipe in the world known).
    Alfredo di Lelio opened the restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in a street in central Rome, after leaving his first restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). In this local spread the fame, first to Rome and then in the world, of “fettuccine all’Alfredo”.
    In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold the restaurant to others outside his family.
    In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 “Il Vero Alfredo” (“Alfredo di Roma”), which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo and Ines, with the famous “gold cutlery”” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).
    See also the site of “Il Vero Alfredo” http://www.alfredo-roma.it/.
    We inform that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.
    Best regards Alfredo e Ines Di Lelio

  2. Pingback: Maque Choux (Southern corn casserole) with Bacon |

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