If cacio e pepe is on a menu, it’s really hard for me to avoid ordering it. Pasta with the best quality cheese and a subtle spice from fresh cracked black pepper–you just can’t beat it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. There are different ways to make it, and historically it’s done with a bucatini, tagliolini or a spaghetti but I tried this fun pasta last weekend. It was a cold fall night, we had a fire going and a nice red wine. My biggest piece of advice on this dish: spend the money on a quality pecorino romano cheese and grate it fresh. It’s still a cheap dinner even if you spend $20 on the cheese. And make sure you have a good black pepper grinder. You can’t just sprinkle some stale pepper on it! Ingredients are key to making this dish heaven. It’s very simple, as long as you know what you’re doing. Follow along my somewhat precise directions below 🙂
- 1 lb pasta of your choice (usually tagliolini, spaghetti or bucatini)
- Roughly 1 cup of Imported pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated (I really didn’t measure- I followed my gut)
- Black pepper, freshly cracked/grinded
- 2 tbsp of butter (or so)
- Pasta water
- Olive oil
Grate your cheese.
If you aren’t using a black pepper grinder, you can do it the old fashioned way.
Stars of the show…
Unfortunately, the local store that makes fresh pasta is closed on Sundays or I would have gone there for this dish. We did find this fun pasta however at the grocery store and it worked perfectly. You can use any pasta you want or have on hand.
Put a large pot of water on the stove and set to high.
Meanwhile, melt butter in your pan and add some olive oil.
Your heat should be set to medium/low so the flavor of the black pepper slowly melts and infuses into the oil. Don’t burn it!
Salt your pasta water and add the pasta of your choice. You’re going to cook it just short of al dente because it will continue cooking when you put it in the sauce.
Then add some of the pasta water to your pan just before the pasta is ready. You want to let the water absorb the starchiness from the pasta first. This will help thicken your sauce. I highly recommend reserving more water in case you need to loosen it again after you put the pasta in.
Add your pasta to the sauce pan and pile on almost all of the cheese. Mix to combine.
Keep mixing. Add a little more pasta water if you need to loosen it up. Drooling…
Spoon your pasta into a nice big bowl. Top with more cheese and finish with more black pepper. It’s really that simple.
Fire. Wine. Pasta. Movie. Yup.
Nosh and mangia. Nomnomnomnomnom.