Reading Jess’s post about simple recipes being at par in terms of enjoyment with complex dishes that take time and technique, it reminded me of one of my favourite pasta dishes: Cacio e pepe. This is a simple pan sauce pasta that does a little bit more effort but barely than just a cheese pasta. That said, nothing really beats the simplicity of pasta tossed with olive oil or butter with a flavourful cheese like freshly grated romano or parmeggiano regiano. What pops with cacio e pepe is the sharp heat of lots of fresh cracked pepper. Here is my interpretation of this classic:
Cacio e pepe
- Two servings of a thick pasta (the thicker the better I find)
- 2 cups or more of grated cheese (parmeggiano regiano and pecorino is a good combo. Or for a non-Italian version, sub the pecorino with gruyere)
- 1-2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
What to do
- Cook your pasta in salted water. Cook it just under el dente so if normally it takes 11 minutes to cook to your liking do 9-10 minutes. This is a pan sauce so you will be cooking your pasta for a few more minutes.
- While pasta cooks heat up butter in a frying pan or chicken fryer. Medium heat. 2 tbsp of butter. And as much black pepper as you want. I’d say at least 2 tsp. you want to really taste the pepper
- When you are a pro at this you’ll time things so that you’ll be ready with the pasta and the oil at the same time. But you’re probably not so just turn off the pan for now.
- When pasta is ready. Ladle cup and half of the pasta water into the pan.
- Drain the pasta. Throw into the pan. If the pan was off turn it on low. Toss a bit more new butter in to keep things from sticking.
- Now add the cheese and season with salt to taste. Stir the cheese in. It should be saucy, if not saucy enough ladle a bit more of the pasta water in.
- I rarely use a non stick pan but this recipe it is a good ideal. Also use a silicone utensil instead of wood. Stir the cheese in and let it cook a bit. You want the heat to be low.
- Plate and serve. After two or three times making this you’ll adjust timing and quantities to your liking.
I don’t measure my ingredients so this is the best I can do! Let me know what cheese combos you try that you like.