Only a few ingredients and such a perfect dish to serve for a quick and simple weeknight dinner. A nice salad and maybe some good homemade bread and you have a meal. The key is in the pasta water and how you cook the sauce so your cheese does not solidify into clumps.
Bucatini pasta is an excellent choice for this recipe! I chose to use this pasta which is one I have never cooked with before. It is a thick spaghetti with a hollow center, known as the “buco” or hole. Bucatini was perfect for capturing all of the creamy, cheesy sauce in this recipe.
Looking at various recipes I noticed a difference in ingredients – some add butter, different amounts of pepper, different pastas and amount used. So, I combined a few recipes together to create my own Pasta Cacio e Pepe based on my tastes … Doesn’t this look good? A big indulgence, but why not once in awhile!
Pasta Cacio E Pepe (Pasta With Cheese and Pepper)
- 4 oz. (2 cups plus more to finish) Pecorino Romano, grated – you could use a combination of Romano and Parmesan or just Parmesan; just be sure to use the good stuff as it makes a difference in the taste
- 12 oz. bucatini (could substitute linguine or spaghetti but I highly recommend this heartier pasta with a hollow center)
- 1 tbsp. salt in 10 cups of water for cooking the pasta
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1/2 to 1 cup pasta water
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns, ground fresh (or more to taste)
- fresh basil to garnish (this comes from a plant I have been growing on a South-facing windowsill)
I love my battery operated Peugeot pepper grinder for just this kind of a recipe when a lot of pepper is needed. You could also put the peppercorns in a small plastic bag and coarsely crush with a flat side of a meat mallet. Then put in a sieve to remove any dust that falls through.
Heat the 10 cups of boiling water with a tbsp. salt added; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. For more tender pasta cook an additional minute or two. It’s important to measure the water and only use this amount as the starches will be concentrated and will result in the success of this recipe. You can actually see the starchy water.
Drain the pasta in a colander and save 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pan.
Place your cheese in a bowl and slowly add enough pasta water until you reach a desired consistency. Next whisk in the cream, oil and pepper. Slowly pour this mixture over slightly cooled pasta, tossing lightly to coat. If the pasta is too hot, the cheese will tend to clump and not melt.
So, two things to remember; 1) use only the specified amount of water and 2) allow the pasta to cool slightly before adding the cheese sauce.
This recipe turned out perfect and we just wanted to “stuff” ourselves with this “comforting” pasta.
Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju