This cacio e pepe recipe is one Rome's four famous pasta dishes, and one of the most simple in terms of ingredients. Work quickly to obtain the rich, smooth Pecorino sauce that this dish is known for.
Cacio e pepe (literally ‘cheese and pepper’) is as simple as it gets in terms of ingredients, comprised of just Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper and pasta. Easy as this dish may sound, however, it does require a certain knack to obtain the silky, rich sauce that it is known for.
First of all, you need to work quickly – the pasta water needs to remain hot enough to melt the cheese. It is also crucial that you remove the pan from the heat before adding the cheese, so it emulsifies into a sauce, rather than seizing up into clumps. Adding butter to the pan will help the sauce emulsify, so is a good option for beginners.
Cook the spaghetti in a pan of heavily salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes or as per packet instructions
Meanwhile, toast the peppercorns in a hot dry frying pan, then transfer to a mortar and pestle and gently crush
When the pasta is cooked al dente, take a cup of the pasta’s cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and leave to steam-dry for 30 seconds
Melt the butter in the frying pan over a medium-low heat and add the cracked pepper, then add the pasta along with a few tablespoons of the pasta water. Toss to coat the spaghetti evenly then remove from the heat and stir in the grated Pecorino
Stir the sauce until the cheese starts to melt and emulsify with the pasta water. Keep adding more water if needed, but make sure it’s nice and hot
Toss the pasta to coat in the sauce and serve immediately with a little more pepper and grated Pecorino – if it starts to cool, the cheese will solidify.