I always look forward to the arrival of my Cook’s Country magazine published by America’s Food Kitchen. This month they had a recipe for Cacio e Pepe (Italian for cheese and pepper and pronounced “kaa-chee-ow ee peh-pay.”) A modified version (video), that includes a bit of cream and olive oil is here. The New York Times recipe is for 3 ingredients only
Because the dish can be made in small amounts, it’s perfect for live-aloners.
Ancient Roman Dish
The cheese called for is Pecorino Romano. It’s one of Italy’s oldest cheeses and was a staple in the diet the Roman legionaries.
Today you can find recipes for Cacio e Pepe Lasagna and Cacio e Pepe Ravioli. If you’re racing the clock, there’s sauce available in a jar at Trader Joe’s.
This is the kind of dish to make when you want a really quick, yet comforting and delicious meal. The first few times I made cacio e pepe, it didn’t turn out as splendid as these photos. So I now follow the “must do” recommendations (below) to insure peak results.
Easy Rules Make a Difference
- Quality ingredients are essential.
- Use Pecorino Romano, the imported cheese made from sheep’s milk. Plain Romano, a domestic cheese, can be bland.
- Use the amount of cooking water indicated in the recipe. The ratio of cooking water to pasta is essential for making a starchy sauce. Some of the water will be added back into the cooked pasta to create the sauce.
- Grate the cheese on a rasp-style grater or microplane to ensure the cheese melts easily and clings to the pasta.
- Bits of fresh ground pepper should be visible in the finished dish.
- Spaghetti works well as the pasta ingredient, though bucatini and tonnarelli are also acceptable. A rough-surfaced pasta makes the sauce adhere better.
- The sauce should not include butter, cream or olive oil.