Some time ago our good friend (and incuQIna reader) Andy reached out to us with some questions (that we are here trying to answer) on Cacio e Pepe. For the ones not knowing this delight, it is a traditional pasta of the Roman tradition that traces back when the shepherds had to bring food along with them on the mountains. Aged sheep cheese (pecorino) could survive for long time in their bags, pepper helped to heat up the bodies, and dry pasta fills up the stomach and gives energy.
Despite its apparent simplicity, getting the sauce right is not so easy. The trick consists in mixing quickly the grated cheese and pepper with the hot pasta just drained (or better “picked up”) and a little bit of cooking water, which will result in a creamy, non-sticky, sent-from-heaven, tasty sauce.
Our friend Andy got it right: to prepare this dish you only need 5 ingredients, no oil, no cream, no butter needed.
-The Pasta should be long, like spaghetti if dry or tonnarelli if fresh pasta.
-The sheep cheese has to be the Pecorino Romano POD: this is usually aged between 5 to 18 months and produced between in Sardinia, Lazio and the province of Grosseto (Tuscany). For the POD stamp, the rennet has also to come from animals breed in these regions.
-A handful of black pepper preferably freshly, finely grind
-The pasta has to be-as usual-cooked in plenty of boiling water. You’ll also need to reserve a cup to mix the pasta with the cheese and the pepper.
-Finally, don’t forget to add salt to the boiling water to cook the pasta;
We suggest you to start trying with a small portion, as to mix everything fast and get a creamy consistence can be quite tricky and it is easier with smaller amounts!
Serves 2 people -Medium difficulty- Prep time: 20 minutes
- 200 gr pasta (long and thin, like spaghetti for dry pasta or tagliolini for egg-based fresh pasta)
- 100gr pecorino
- plenty of black pepper
- Bring the water to boil and add a spoon of cooking salt;
- add the pasta to the boiling salted water;
- cook the pasta for a minute less of what is indicated on the package;
- in the meanwhile, grate the cheese and grind plenty of pepper (to your taste);
- before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of cooking water;
- put the pasta in the bowl, add a ladle of cooking water, the grated cheese and pepper and start mixing immediately and fast with two forks; add more cooking water if needed and keep mixing until creamy;
- serve and finish off with an extra sprinkle of cheese and pepper;
- eat when still warm.
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