icon New Orleans Shrimp Fettuccine

Fettuccine, or as it is most of the time incorrectly spelled "fettuccini", is egg and flour pasta from Rome, called tagliatelle elsewhere in Italy. The name fettuccine means "little ribbons". And, because the word fettuccia is a feminine noun, the plural has to end with an -e, not -i. So, there.

Pasta tossed with cheese and butter has a long history in Italy going back to the Middle Ages. It is called simply "Pasta al burro". The evolution of New Orleans Shrimp Fettuccine started with that dish, but has gone through a complicated path, involving Rome, Hollywood and New Orleans. First, there was a restaurant called Alfredo's on Via della Scrofa in Rome, owned by Alfredo di Lelio. In 1914, they started making Pasta al burro with very rich, sweet triple-butter Di Lelio made himself, fresh fettuccine made of three kinds of four, black pepper and the heart of the best Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. It was made with nothing more and nothing less: no cream, mushrooms, green peas or garlic. It became locally known as Fettuccine all'Alfredo.

The path to international fame of Fettuccine all'Alfredo started in 1927 when Hollywood actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford ate it at Alfredo's on their honeymoon. They raved about it, journalists picked up the story and spread the news of Fettucchine All'Alfredo across the Atlantic. In the 1950s, Alfredo's restaurant, now located on Piazza Augusto Imperatore, became a mecca for visiting Americans, most of whom came to sample the dish. The dish then became ubiquitous in Italian-American restaurants across the United States, but because most cooks could not duplicate the richness of the original butter, today the dish almost always contains heavy cream. The recipe then evolved into combinations of pasta with shrimp, chicken, broccoli etc.

In Italy today, the name "Fettuccine Alfredo" is largely unknown. The dish is simply known as "Pasta al burro".

In New Orleans, the Creole-Italian version of Fettuccine Alfredo, called Shrimp Fettuccine, is made with fresh Gulf shrimp, tomatoes, herbs, white wine and Creole Seasoning. It avoids the cream business most other American versions of the dish use, and is therefore closer to di Lelio's original. But the dish is unmistakably Creole in taste, and it was Commander's Palace restaurant that made this recipe famous.

Here are two classic versions: the first one is from Chef Gerhard Brill from Commander’s Palace, and the second one is from Chef Emeril Lagasse, formerly also of Commander's. The recipes use Creole seasonings, typical Louisiana herbs and obviously take full advantage of the abundance of fresh, good seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

Making fresh fettuccine from scratch is always preferred over using store-bought dried ones.

Shrimp With Fettuccine
from Chef Gerhard Brill, Commander’s Palace Restaurant, New Orleans


  • 2 cups fresh fettuccine
  • 8 tbsp butter (yes, 8 - do not whine)
  • 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 tsp parsley, minced
  • 4 medium white onions, sliced
  • 4 fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 tbsp fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
  • 1/2 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tsp Creole Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup shrimp stock
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccini and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes (for fresh, home-made fettucine).Drain and toss pasta with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, and set aside.
  2. Melt 4 tbsp of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the garlic, shrimp, parsley, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions and seafood seasoning. Stir the mixture gently for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the shrimp stock and cook until onions are transparent.
  4. Add the white wine and simmer until the sauce is almost absorbed and the shrimp are pink.
  5. Add the cooked fettucine and toss with the sauce. Remove the pan from the fire and add the remaining 4 tbsp butter. Stir gently until the butter is melted and creamy. Serve immediately.
  6. YIELD: 4 servings

Gulf Shrimp and Fresh Fettuccine
with Tomato, Mushrooms, and Truffle Oil

from Emeril’s Restaurant in New Orleans


  • 3/4 lb fresh fettuccine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 lb assorted mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 lb large gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shrimp stock
  • 1/2 tsp truffle oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccini and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes (for fresh, home-made fettucine). Drain and toss pasta with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, cover, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining tbsp of oil and melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes have released most of their liquid, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add the shrimp to the pan and sear on 1 side for 1 to 2 minutes. Turn shrimp and add the wine and the stock to the pan. Continue cooking until the shrimp are cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.
  8. Add the cooked fettuccine, and remaining 2 tbsp of butter. Toss the pasta to heat through, about 1 minute and remove from the heat. Drizzle with the truffle oil, add the 1 tablespoon parsley and toss to coat.
  9. Divide pasta evenly among 4 pasta bowls and garnish with grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
  10. YIELD: 4 servings

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Last updated: October 12, 2010