Best Cacio e Pepe Recipes
Top Rated Cacio e Pepe Recipes
New York's Lupa is often revered by critics for having the best cacio e pepe in the city. This ancient dish is said to be the perfect meal of Roman shepards, who made it with the few simple dry ingredients they could carry on their travels. At Lupa, they put a slight buttery twist on the dish to add richness and make it a tad creamier than traditional variations.
Perfect in its minimalism, cacio e pepe, directly translated as cheese and pepper, is a real crowd-pleaser, great for a family meal or a dinner that doubles as lunch the next day. For that buttery taste with less fat, this version combines olive oil and butter in a 2:1 combo. A key to this dish is using freshly ground pepper, so get out your pepper mill and grind away.Click here to see 8 Tasty Lunch Ideas for Work.
How to make the perfect cacio e pepe
It’s 2016 most popular pasta dish, but should you use spaghetti, how much pepper do you need, is pecorino or parmesan best – and how do you achieve a smooth, creamy sauce?
Last modified on Wed 11 Mar 2020 11.37 GMT
I f you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry – until about two months ago, neither had I. Then, suddenly, cacio e pepe was everywhere, virtually speaking at least, a million slick strands of cheesy spaghetti clogging up social media like a vast hipster hairball.
Those who claim a longer familiarity with the idea probably have some connection with Rome, where it’s an old favourite – its simplicity means that it’s rarely found in restaurants abroad, at least until recently. Then, suddenly, the once humble primi launched its quest for world domination – it pops up as the eternal city’s “trendiest pasta dish” in 2012, and by the beginning of this year, Time Out was already declaring it New York’s “trendiest dish of 2016”.
And where America leads, Britain follows. London restaurateur Russell Norman claims he first came across cacio e pepe on holiday in Tuscany last summer, put it on the menu as a special and then, he told Esquire: “I noticed something odd – it had simultaneously started to appear on other restaurant menus in London with alarming frequency. On a subsequent trip to New York, I saw it everywhere there, too. Cacio e pepe has fully entered the collective psyche of foodies. It is part of the restaurant zeitgeist. It has become a trend.”
Trendy for good reason: beautiful in its three-ingredient simplicity, cheap and quick to put together – but very easy to get wrong. As Rachel Roddy notes, there is a fine line between clump and cream, and making a smooth sauce from dry cheese and water is a skill that needs to be learned, as I realised on my first, second and seventh attempts. Once you’ve mastered it, however, cacio e pepe is a dish for life one that can be knocked up in minutes with the most basic of store cupboard ingredients. So, don’t hate it because it’s hip, make it because it’s good.
What is Cacio e pepe?
Before Patrick and I toured Italy this past fall (see my IG highlights), I wasn’t familiar with Cacio e Pepe, and now I am obsessed! It was on every restaurant menu in Rome because it is pure addicting, creamy, tangy, slurp worthy comfort food (and perfect for upcoming Valentine’s Day!). I promise you will crave it like crazy – I’m sorry and you’re welcome.
Cacio e pepe (pronounced [kaˈtʃo e ˈpeːpe]) is a pasta dish from modern Roman cuisine that literally translates into “cheese and pepper.” Cacio e Pepe first appeared on the Roman cooking frontier in the mid-twentieth century and now is a staple in Rome and throughout Italy. True to its name, Cacio e Pepe is often referred to as the stripped-down mac and cheese of Italy. It exemplifies the use of simple, quality ingredients (cheese, butter, olive oil, salt and pasta) in perfect proportions and pan sauce precision to create something extraordinary.
Cacio is the local Roman dialect for Pecorino Romano, a sheep’s-milk cheese made in the region and essential to Cacio Pepe. To make Cacio e Pepe, the pasta gets simmered in small amount of water to make the water extra starchy (so it can become creamy) and then part of the water is added to sautéed butter, olive oil and pepper. Pecorino Romano is then mixed into the buttery bath to create a lusciously creamy, buttery cheese sauce that envelops the pasta in its velvety peppery glory.
- 6 cups water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns, divided
- ½ cup finely grated pecorino cheese
Bring water to boil in a large pot over high heat. Add salt then pasta, pushing it into the water, if needed, to submerge. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente, about 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat canola oil, olive oil and 2 teaspoons pepper in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until fragrant.
Ladle 1 1/2 cups of the pasta-cooking water into the pan and reserve another 1/4 cup drain the pasta (do not rinse it).
Bring the peppery pasta-cooking water to a boil over high heat. Boil until reduced by nearly half, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta. Using tongs, stir and toss to coat the pasta with the liquid. Sprinkle in cheese in 3 additions, tossing quickly to ensure even distribution and melting between each addition. Drizzle the pasta with the reserved 1/4 cup pasta water and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.
How to Make Cacio e Pepe, Step by Step
It's one of the most elemental and elegant recipes you can make, and it's also one of the simplest. Yes, we're talking about the classic Italian pasta dish that is cacio e pepe. While the typical recipe is cheese and pepper on pasta, ours has a few additions, namely butter, lemon, and olive oil. Here we're sharing our test kitchen's step by step method for making cacio e pepe tonight or any night a craving strikes.
While some classic Italian pasta dishes can be made with a variety of noodles (Bolognese doesn't have to be paired with spaghetti, nor does carbonara), cacio e pepe should be made with either spaghetti or bucatini. This simple dish needs long, thin round noodles to coat.
The cheese is where our recipe first deviates from the traditional. Cacio e pepe is said to have originated in Roman times when shepherds took their pasta with them when they moved their sheep to pasture in the spring. They cooked the pasta during the spring and summer months with the cheese they made from their sheep's milk, which would have been a cheese similar to Pecorino Romano. Today, some cooks prefer to simply toss hot pasta with Pecorino Romano in this age-old way, but our recipe uses more than just Pecorino. We also add Grana Padano. The Pecorino is used to finish the pasta while the Grana Padano is used for a creamy, silky pan sauce, and that's because it's a cheese that melts beautifully.
We also up the ante by adding the brightness of lemon as a finishing touch. The other essential ingredient is plenty of freshly ground black pepper, which is where the pepe portion of the name comes from!
Because cacio e pepe is so simple, technique is important. Follow our step-by-step guide to master the recipe at home.
For a Smoother Sauce, Start with a Cheese Paste
Though the dish has just four ingredients, you won’t make a good version of this classic Roman dish by just tossing everything together in a big bowl. If you grate the cheese directly onto the hot pasta, you’ll end up with small clumps of cheese that don’t blend. Conversely, if you dump the hot pasta over a bowlful of grated cheese, you’ll find that the bulk of the cheese becomes stuck to the bottom of the bowl (and what does end up on your pasta will taste weirdly dry and grainy).
So, to make the best cacio e pepe, you want to start by making a cheese paste. It’s an extra step, but trust me, this is worth it, and it doesn’t add any extra time to the dish: You can do it while the pasta water is boiling.
How to Prevent the Cheese From Clumping
When people make this dish, the tricky part seems to be clumping cheese. I have a few simple tricks to help prevent that from happening:
- First, start with high-quality wedges of aged, hard cheese, and grate it yourself. Don’t buy the imitation cheeses. With so few ingredients, quality really counts.
- Use a microplane or small hole grater to achieve small shreds of cheese, so it melts quicker.
- Use starchy pasta water. When mixed with the aged cheese, the starch coats the proteins and prevents the cheese from sticking together when heated. This melts the cheese and creates a smooth texture. It’s similar to creating a very light roux for a bechamel.
- Lastly, add heavy cream, which helps the sauce become a smooth and homogeneous mixture.
Looking for the best Cacio E Pepe recipe!
I'm going to upvote this just because it will infuriate Italians seeing a French man on the top of this thread. And out of respect for Alex because he goes ALL-IN to understand recipes like this and make them approachable for simpletons like me. But I will still search youtube videos by Italians first on how to make stuff like this even though I can't understand them and need CCs because I'm always trying to impress the grandma of the Italian girlfriend I'll never have.
I second this- he does a really good job of telling you how to do it!
Wow. That second video has some seriously clever ideas in it.
There’s definitely a place for both versions in the world. #1 for technique and a regular weeknight fix, #2 to impress.
Wow, it's like a French Alton Brown!
I watched it, and I feel like he left out some things in the cooking process. Like, did he take a piping hot pan off the heat and immediately add the cheese to it? Or did he wait for it to cool down?
Can confirm greatness. Just used this recipe over the weekend
I second this. I was skeptical at first but it’s fantastic!
Boil pasta (I use bucatini, but you can use whatever) until almost done.
Drain and fry pasta in butter for a few minutes, add pepper (fresh ground is best).
Add a little pasta water to pan until simmering, then add some Parmesan cheese. Once the cheese is melted, turn off heat, then add Pecorino cheese (Pecorino is important).
You can add some salt if you like.
From a cooking class I took in rome as a tourist.
Ingredients for one serving:
Place the flour in a bowl and break the egg that you have kept at room temperature add salt. Mix the eggs with a fork, gradually taking the flour from the edges then worked with hands the dough from the outside inwards, mixing all the flour. If the dough does not fully collect the flour or proves slightly hard, add one or two tablespoons of warm water and continue to knead until it will be smooth and compact. Then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for about 1 hour in a cool, dry place. After resting, so get ready to roll. Flour the work surface and bodies with a rolling pin or a machine to roll the dough. Before you roll out your dough flattened making a slight finger pressure. When you've got the right thickness, you can get pasta shapes desired. For fettuccine or pappardelle noodles, flour the dough, then roll it on itself. Cut the roll into many slices that will have a different width depending on the format chosen: 5 to 7 mm for the fettuccine 2-3 mm for the noodles and 1.5-2 cm for the pasta. Once cut the various slices, srotolatele immediately and put the dough on a floured surface.
Cacio e pepe Noodles
For 1 serving: 100 gr. Hand made noodles Roman pecorino cheese Black pepper Olive oil
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes. In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of cheese, a tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of pepper and half a ladle of pasta cooking water, until it turns into a cream. Drain the noodles and let cool for 1 minute out of the water. Pour the cream cheese on noodles and stir quickly.
- ¾ pound spaghetti
- ¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cheeses.
Return the pasta to the pot. Working quickly, add 6 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, alternating with the cheeses toss well to thoroughly coat the pasta between additions. Sprinkle on the black pepper and season the pasta with salt toss again.
Transfer the pasta to a warmed serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of cooking water, as necessary, tossing until a creamy sauce forms. Serve right away.
Serve cacio e pepe topped with more cheese and pepper
Congratulations! You just made a centuries-old pasta dish, and all it took was 15 minutes and four ingredients. Don't you feel like a part of history already?
Serve your cacio e pepe immediately in bowls with additional cheese grated on top, and more cracked black pepper. Pour a glass of your favorite Italian wine, light some candles, and play an Eros Ramazzotti album.
Cacio e pepe will keep in a sealed container for five days, but it's best made and eaten fresh. It can really end up as a coagulated mess if allowed to get cold.