Cacio e Pepe is an Italian term that translates to ‘Cheese and Pepper.’ It is a delicious Roman meal that is the advanced version of spaghetti with a creamy sauce.
It is an elegant pasta (al dente) recipe that is solely based on your way of cooking and preparing the main cheese sauce. With the least amount of ingredients to cook with, this fancy recipe comes with its own tactics.
The key ingredients in this simple recipe are freshly ground pepper and pre-grated cheese with pasta cooking water, and your stylish Cacio e Pepe recipe is ready. So, without further ado, let’s start off with our small yet crucial list of ingredients to make the best Cacio e Pepe recipe ever!
1. Cacio e Pepe Recipe
There are a few ingredients that may not be used in the traditional recipe of Cacio e Pepe, but it is a great option. Since they enhance the creaminess of the pasta and also help in perfecting the cheese sauce, it is best to use them in your recipe.
- Dried Pasta – 600 g ( Bucatini, Tonarelli or Spaghetti )
- Grounded Black Pepper – 2 tbsp
- Olive Oil ( Extra Virgin Olive Oil )
- Butter – 2tbsp ( Unsalted )
- Pecorino Romano Cheese – 500 g ( Finely Grated )
- Parmesan or Grana Padano Cheese – 200 g ( Finely Grated )
- Kosher Salt
- Water – 3 Litre
- Reserved Pasta Water
This recipe is one of the easiest ones, which tastes so delicious simultaneously. However, the recipe entirely depends on the success of the cheese sauce we’ll prepare. It is a frequent thing to get a broken sauce out of the dried cheese of pecorino romano. Since it is an old cheese, it is often difficult to turn it into a glossy sauce as the cheese melts.
We’ll get to the sauce part quickly, so let’s start with cooking the pasta first!
1.2 Cook Pasta for Cacio e Pepe
- Take a large pot, add 2.5 Litre water, and heat it under medium heat. You may also slowly turn it into high heat to boil sooner.
- Once the water has been heated enough, add one and a half tablespoons of kosher salt. Stirring occasionally helps to mix it well with the heated water.
- Once your boiling salted water is ready, add the pasta directly to the pot and let it cook for a few minutes. You may use tongs to press the spaghetti pasta down into the water if it sticks out.
- Cooking the pasta for some time is necessary since we require a good amount of pasta water for the recipe later on, during the sauce making.
- If you think the water amount is more than the pasta, then proceed to take out some reserved pasta water and keep it aside.
- It is better to cook the pasta with less water than the actual because it increases the starch in the pasta, which will help the cheese sauce to stick to it, later on.
- So, after the pasta water is already at hand, reduce the cooking water as much as possible.
- Once the spaghetti is cooked and softened, drain pasta with a strainer or simply keep it stored in a colander for the time being until the other sections of the recipe are ready.
- Please note that the pasta must be added to the sauce as soon as it is drained, so a bit of multi-tasking is required in its recipe.
- It is a great option to cook the pasta on one side and prepare the sauce on the other stove. That makes the recipe quicker, more efficient, and more delicious at the same time.
1.3 Preparing the Sauce
- Take another large pan, sprinkle 2 tsp Olive Oil, and spread it equally around the bottom of the pan. Keep the low heat until the oil warms up a little bit.
- Then add half of the butter and let it around the pan; you may use a wooden spoon to melt it faster. Add ground black pepper right after the butter and mix them together.
- The cooking of butter and pepper together brings a fine aroma as long as you mix it. Turn the stove to high heat and cook it for 2-3 minutes.
- Once the butter pepper is cooked, add pasta water to the pan. Add 2 cups at first and store them well together.
- You may decide on how much pepper should you use in this recipe according to your preferences. Cook it with pasta water for 3-4 minutes, then you may add more pasta water to another cup or two.
- Since it is the process of thickening the sauce, add just enough pasta water, or it will become too plain for taste.
- Once it is well-cooked with aroma, add the cooked pasta over the pan of sauce. It is recommended to stir the current mixture faster, and with pressure, it will thicken the sauce more easily.
- Please be patient and keep on this process for 4-5 minutes, at least. While you’re mixing the pasta with the sauce, add the remaining butter as well to grease up the pasta if it is dry.
- Cacio e Pepe is controversially known for this moment in the recipe. Once you’ve spent 5 minutes cooking the pasta with sauce under medium-high heat, remove the pan from the heat.
- With no heat on the pan, keep tossing the pasta with tongs as you mix the sauce. Meanwhile, add 350-400 g Pecorino Romano Cheese, then toss and mix the pasta strenuously.
- Keep doing it for a few minutes until the cheese starts sticking to the pasta perfectly. If it is getting dry, add a little olive oil and mix them again.
- Finally, after cooking for 3-4 minutes, add another layer of remaining pasta and top it with 150 g of parmesan or grana padano cheese.
- Vigorously mix the pasta with the cheese and oil until everything blends well to form a creamy texture.
- The starch will help the parmesan and pecorino cheese to stick to the pasta while keeping the flavor of this fancy dish. The cooking time of this dish is barely 15 minutes, so try it out soon.
- After blending the sauce and pasta with cheese for a sufficient time, serve immediately on a clean plate of Cacio e Pepe.
- Garnish the exquisite dish with black pepper on top and pecorino cheese on one side.
- Make sure to grate your own cheese at home since the purchased version is often thicker and will not blend well with the sauce.
Do not forget to try this outstanding and creamy Cacio e Pepe dish at home. It is one of the best and easiest recipes to make ever.
3. Final Note
Cacio e Pepe is an outstanding spaghetti dish with a pretty clever improvisation with cheese. Along with the strong essence of pepper, it just can’t be better. Being one of the most beloved recipes, it is also an all-time favorite.
So, do not miss out on this fascinating meal of happiness, especially if you’re a pasta and cheese lover!