Cacio & Pepe
Here is another milestone of Roman cuisine, you’re the famous Cacio & Pepe (Cheese & Pepper), the original “Mac & Cheese”. The combination of the creamy Pecorino Cheese sauce with the toasted ground black pepper is a unique tasting experience. While simple, you need to be carefully focused while cooking it; this dish requires a little technique to do it well. We tried to pack our secrets about Cacio & Pepe preparation into this recipe. Follow our advice step by step, and you won’t regret it, as you’ll obtain an amazing dish!
350 gr (0.8 lb) Spaghetti alla chitarra (in case you don’t find this type, even though highly recommended, linguine, bucatini or regular spaghetti are fine – the better the pasta brand the better the result)
150 gr (5.2 oz) Pecorino Romano DOP cheese – grated
Black pepper (whole peppercorns)
Bring water to boil in a big pot suitable for cooking pasta.
With the help of a mortar and pestle (or with a food processor), roughly grind 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns.
Salt the water and pour in the “spaghetti alla chitarra”. The timer will be important, which we will set based on the cooking time recommended on the pasta package, BUT subtracting three minutes, in order to obtain a semi-hard consistency for spaghetti, which ultimately is finished by cooking directly in the pan with cheese and pepper.
Toast the ground black pepper in a large sauté pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds and add two ladles of cooking water. Cook for two minutes.
In a bowl, pour the Pecorino Romano DOP and add half of a ladle of cooking water. Mix it with a cooking spatula, until a semisolid consistency is reached.
Remove the pasta from the boiling water and add it to the saucepan (important- save a cup or two of the cooking water) and start stirring in the saucepan with the pepper sauce, on high heat. Add a half ladle of cooking water (perhaps 1/4 cup) and turn off the burner. Stir with the heat off.
Now add the pecorino and start to stir consistently with a wooden fork until a creamy sauce is reached.
Put the sauté pan back on the burner and stir over high heat for about 20 seconds.
Serve by adding some ground black pepper to taste (finely ground with a pepper mill).
This dish pairs perfectly with a glass of Vermentino or Verdicchio wines.