It is a show on a plate of 3 simple ingredients, a classic of Italian cuisine! One of my favourites, this dish comes from the Roman colorful traditions and so tasteful country cooking, masterpiece made with all what makes Italian food so greatly loved all over the world.
The cheese is a Cacio romano or pecorino romano and should be extra fresh. Buy a good quality of recently grated Pecorino or a cheese piece from an Italian brand that you will grate yourself.
The freshly ground pepper will be toasted, then added at the end. The spaghettis are the real ones, no fettuccine, cappellini, or angel hair. This dish is strong in taste yet refined from its simplicity, like the Roman ancient countrymen who invented it!
Do not use Parmigiano instead, it will not be a Cacio e Pepe recipe anymore, some do, but purists won’t and it is extremely good in this way!!
Finally there is a secret to this goodness, it is the proportion between the pecorino cheese and pasta-cooking water that creates the ‘ sauce’ . I say sauce, in fact it is a cheesy, gooey coating of each spaghetto, that makes it great!
‘Andiamo ora‘, enough said, here it is..
Ingredients: serves 4 to 6
- 14 oz. package of good quality spaghetti (Garofalo, de Cecco, Barilla)
- 7 oz. (1 cup tp a1 +1/4 cup) freshly grated Pecorino cheese)
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorn or fresh ground pepper.
- 1 tablespoon of butter ( really optional)
How you make it:
- Prepare serving plates.
- Bring to boil a 6 to 8 quart pot of well salted water.
- When water is at boiling point add spaghetti, following package directions and cook till 2 minutes shy before time indicated on package for ‘ al dente‘.
- While spaghetti are boiling, in a small skillet toast peppercorns or fresh ground pepper, 1 minute. Reserve.
- In a plate, grate pecorino cheese, keep it on hand.
- While pasta is boiling, warm a big ceramic or glass bow, (no plastic) with some hot water, keep ready.
- Just before draining pasta, keep 2 ladles of cooking water, drain pasta, without shaking off excess of water.
- Empty reserved warm bowl, add pasta to it, add 3 to 5 tablespoons of pasta water, sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese and toss quickly. If pasta seems dry add additional cooking water, if too moist, add some more cheese.
- Divide into the plates, quickly add fresh ground toasted pepper, butter if you like, some more cheese on side bowl and serve to eat immediately everyone!
Tip: to avoid cheese clumps use a box grater, not a Microplane!