Directly translated, Cacio e Pepe means “cheese and pepper” in Italian; the two hero ingredients of the dish. This luxurious pasta has actually been a staple in Roman cuisine for centuries - and we can understand why!
Instead of using heavy cream to make the sauce, this recipe incorporates the starchy water used to cook the pasta. It really is a healthier and more elegant version of mac and cheese.
Although the ingredients are simple, some technique is required to achieve the sauce’s creamy consistency. To ensure you are left with a flavorsome and perfectly emulsified sauce, we have created a few easy steps for you to follow.
One of our main tips is to transfer the cooked pasta into the evoo and pepper skillet, to bring the dish together. Keeping the Pecorino seperate, and adding it into the final step will ensure that the sauce does not clump up.
We also believe the secret to achieving the deepest flavor and smoothest texture is in the ingredients. You simply can’t compromise on the quality of any of them. If you use freshly cracked black paper, a good cheese and the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil you can get your hands on (we suggest The Governor), you'll achieve the best results.
Cacio e Pepe
4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1 cup), very finely grated, plus more for serving
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of black pepper in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the ingredients until they become fragrant and the pepper starts to sizzle (approximately 1 minute). Set aside.
Cook the pasta until al dente (typically 1 minute less than the package instructions). Transfer 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta cooking water to the skillet with the olive oil/pepper mixture. Stir in butter. Using tongs, lift spaghetti and transfer it to the oil/butter mixture.
Add cheese and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and stir until cheese is melted. Add a few more tablespoons of pasta water to the skillet to adjust consistency, reheating as necessary until the sauce is creamy and coats each strand of spaghetti. Season to taste with salt and more black pepper. Serve immediately, garnishing the dish with extra grated cheese.