Cacio E Pepe is Italian for “pepper and cheese” and this recipe – while it sounds incredibly simple – is exactly that. And despite how simple it is, it is very, very tasty.
6 oz. Pasta (I bought 9 ounces, so I multiplied everything by 1.5 – also long pasta like fettuccine works best)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (springing for French butter is well worth it)
1 Tbsp freshly cracked black pepper (I was generous, I love pepper so used almost 2 Tbsp)
3/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large (5 quart or more) pot. Season with salt to taste (not too much, the cheese added later has a high salt content) and cook until right before the pasta is done. Drain the pasta and set aside, but save 3/4 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp of butted in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the pepper and swirl it around in the pan for a minute or two. This toasts the pepper and allows the flavor to spread into the butter. This only takes a minute or two. You don’t want to burn the butter.
Add the saved pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer before throwing in the pasta and remaining Tbsp of butter. Reduce the heat to low, and stir the pasta with tongs until it is coated.
Remove the pan from the heat. The pasta at this point will have completed the cooking process, which also absorbs some of the water and thickens the “sauce.” Slowly add the grated cheese bit by bit until it all melts together. You can add more water if the pasta seems too dry.
Now you’re ready to eat!
Grating the Cheese
I used some fresh pasta (fettuccine) to reduce cooking time.
I love black pepper! (Freshly Ground)
Look how yellow and creamy this European butter is. It is well worth the price. Taste some if you don’t believe me.