Cacio e Pepe Recipe
Submitted By:from Lee's Summit,.
Cacio e Pepe Notes
Pasta the Italian Way - Means quick, fast, and simple, but "aggettivo"-fantastico.
Cacio means cheese (Italian, hard, and freshly ground) Pepe means pepper (if peppercorns, freshly ground, or other either ground or flakes.
- For cooking water, 3 tablespoons kosher flake salt
- 1 pound spaghetti (De Cecco or Latini brand); if you want great pasta you gotta start with a great pasta
- 2 cups grated cheese (Pecorino Romano or other hard Italian cheese)
- 1 tablespoon or more freshly ground black pepper
Serves / Yields
Place individual pasta serving bowls/plates in a 200 degree F oven to warm until plating.
Combine the grated cheese and ground pepper and set aside.
Place 6 quarts of water in an 8 quart pot and bring to a rapid boil. Do not add any oil to the cooking water. If using a 6 qt. pan add 4 quarts water.
Add the salt, when water comes to a rapid boil. No need to cover the cooking pot at any stage in the cooking process.
When the water returns to a rapid boil, add the pasta - make sure the long pasta is submerged in the boiling water.
When water returns to a boil, start timing the cooking process (at 1,000 feet above sea level, about 8 min for De Cecco and about 5 minutes for Latini to al dente), but sampling the pasta during the cooking process is the best way to know the exact cooking stage of the pasta.
Stir the cooking pasta occasionally during the cooking process.
Drain the pasta 30 seconds before it reaches al dente, and retain the pasta in its cooking pot - do not shake the pasta dry - a "little" retained water is OK - actually preferred.
Add 1 cup (reserve the other cup) of the cheese/pepper dressing mixture and toss to combine. Plate and serve immediately. Use either tongs or a pasta fork to transfer the pasta from cooking pot to serving plate. Provide a dinner fork - only a fork is necessary for eating long pasta.
The retained cheese/pepper mixture should be served on the side for those who want additional.
This simple recipe is easily adaptable to various hard grated cheeses and various peppercorn medleys or other ground or flaked peppers.
Some folks like to give this a final toss with a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil - My preference would be San Macario EVOO (Italian - it is light with a buttery consistency).
A sauce is actually a either a semiliquid or a liquid, therefore, the grated cheese pepper mixture is a dry dressing.
One could substitute a butter-cheese sauce for the grated cheese, but not the pepper - you will still need 1 Tbsp. of the pepper.
Al Dente: the point at which the hard center core of the spaghetti becomes undetectable - but, the pasta is firm to tooth completely through the stand of spaghetti. Most Italian home cooks serve pasta at al dente.
Note: the spaghetti will continue to cook for about 30 seconds after removing from heat, so drain the spaghetti about 30 seconds before it reaches al dente.
Cooked pasta waits on nothing and nobody, sauce will. But with this recipe, all preparations can be performed while the pasta water is coming to a boil. Still, I never start cooking pasta until all who are going to eat it are present.
Never over-sauce any pasta - my philosophy is that one should be able to taste both the pasta and the sauce, not just the sauce. If all one can taste is the sauce, why bother with pasta, just make and eat the sauce.
Everything about this dish is quick and you must serve it quick - while "Hot" - this particular dish cools quickly. It is very popular in central and southern Italy, the favorite of many a hungry cook when on break while working the line in a large kitchen of a big city restaurant.
I hope you enjoy this often over-looked little jewel.
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