My trip to Italy was the most amazing experience, and obviously the food played a gigantic role in my impression of the beautiful country. Being able to try Bistecca Fiorentina in Florence, fresh lobster and squid ink pasta in Venice, and cacio e pepe in Rome was such a treat. Well, the last one was a dish I had tried to make on my own multiple times, and though Parm, pasta, butter and black pepper is always good, I didn’t know how great it could be! And now I’ve found a method that basically transports you back to Italy…
Serious Eats, one of my favorite food blogs, has gotten this dish down to a science, and I’m going to share the wealth of knowledge. First of all, make sure you are using high quality ingredients – this matters. Grate your own real Pecorino Romano, use high quality olive oil, and use fresh, coarse black pepper that you grind yourself.
You start by toasting black pepper in olive oil until it’s fragrant. Then you will be boiling your spaghetti noodles in a pan (NOT a pot – when you use less water to boil the pasta, you get a higher concentration of starch, which is what you’ll use as a thickening agent for your sauce!).
Add butter and pasta water to the olive oil and toasted black pepper, then add your spaghetti noodles!
Stir in the freshly grated Pecorino like so:
Then you just season with salt and lots more black pepper:
And cook until the creamy sauce has thickened and evenly coated your noodles (just a few minutes) adding more pasta water as necessary. Serve with homemade garlic bread! Buonissimo!
Roman-Style Cacio e Pepe
This recipe is inspired by the Serious Eats Cacio e Pepe, which can be found here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/02/spaghetti-cacio-e-pepe-recipe.html
4 tbs olive oil
1/2 lb spaghetti
2 tbs butter
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (plus extra for serving)
Coarsely ground black pepper
1. Add 3 tbs olive oil to a medium sauté pan, along with 3 tsp black pepper over medium heat. Cook until the pepper just starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Set aside.
2. Put spaghetti in a large pan, and cover with water. Add a sprinkle of salt, and bring to a boil. Cook until al dente.
3. Add 3 tbs of the pasta water from the spaghetti to the pan containing the olive oil and pepper mixture. Stir in the butter.
4. Use tongs to lift the spaghetti out of the pasta water and into the olive oil, pepper, and butter mixture. Add the grated cheese and 1 tbs of olive oil, and stir until incorporated.
5. Adjust the consistency by adding another tbs or two of pasta water and gently reheating as necessary until the sauce is creamy.
6. Season with salt and more power, and finish with extra Pecorino grated on top.