Italian creamy cacio and pepe recipe

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4 ingredients. Only 4 ingredients for a very scrumptious recipe, its name? Cacio e Pepe. It is a  genuine dish from Lazio, but you can do it yourself wherever you are. You just have to look for the right ingredients, and it is a done deal! 

What does cacio e pepe mean?

It is typical Italian saying which means pasta with cheese, a lot of Pecorino, and pepper”.

Careful! Cooking Cacio e Pepe is much more than grating some cheese on pasta: a particular method is required to make a rich cream which evenly coats pasta. Read on, and you will find out everything about this dish. 

What does cacio e pepe taste like?

It is rich in coarsely ground pepper, so you must love it if you want to fully enjoy this course. It’s robust, cohesive, creamy, and strong. Do you have to add cream? Not at all! Oil? Neither. Pecorino Romano and water: that’s all!

The perfect chemical reaction between the water and the proteins of the cheese make the sauce creamy and smooth, but the combination of the flavor is the actual secret for a very appetizing dish- freshly crushed peppercorns release all their sharp taste when they are slightly toasted in a skillet. Pasta must be tossed slowly until evenly coated. 

What is cacio cheese?

The recipe wants medium mature Pecorino cheese, but in Italy “cacio” means cheese which can be grated.

If you can’t find Pecorino where you live, you may replace it with Parmigiano Reggiano: it won’t be the genuine Cacio e Pepe, but it will be scrumptious as well.

What pasta is good for cacio e pepe?

Long wheat durum pasta, such as spaghetti, or bucatini best fits the dish. I like linguine.

Anyway, short pasta, macaroni, may be paired with it, as well.

The genuine recipe wants “tonnarelli” home made soft wheat pasta made from flour type 0 or 1 and eggs. It is really delicious, we are going to make it. Tonnarelli resembles“spaghetti alla chitarra” in shape and taste-delicious.

A few tricks to make a perfect cacio e pepe:

  • Do not use too much water to cook pasta because the starch itself makes the sauce smooth and creamy;
  • Cheese provides enough fat; oil is not needed;
  • Use only the hot cooking water of the pasta: it contains the starch which makes the cream silky and smooth without any clumps;
  • Drain pasta before it is perfectly cooked and finish cooking it in the skillet with the ground toasted peppercorns, so spaghetti will absorb the full taste.

Can you reheat cacio e pepe?

No, you can’t. Cacio e pepe must be prepared and eaten right away. It cannot be stored in the fridge: so prepare the right serving for each person, not to waste anything.

Italian creamy cacio and pepe recipe

It is really appetizing. Typically Italian, exactly from Rome, it is well-known all over the world. It is a quite variable recipe over Italy: the same ingredients, but different cooking methods. 
You can taste the most toothsome ‘Cacio e pepe’ in Rome: here, the housewives have the mastery; the other women around Italy try to do their best according the authentic recipe. 
And I’ll do my best myself. 
A few ingredients: pasta (long pasta, spaghetti or linguine, fits best), cacio (“Pecorino Romano” a kind of aged cheese from sheep milk), pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. 
It is a very creamy sauce, but it does not need any cream at all. Keep in mind that it is a high-calorie dish because of cheese, so combine it with a generous portion of vegetables. 
If you can’t find Pecorino Romano cheese, you may replace it with Parmigiano Reggiano (watch out: there are a lot of fake Parmigiano Reggiano cheese). It won't be the same taste, but it will be appetizing as well. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cacio e pepe, italian spaghetti cacio e pepe, roma cacio e pepe, speghetti cacio e pepe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 360 gr

    long pasta

    fresh “spaghetti alla chitarra” or dry (Rummo or Barilla spaghetti)

  • 200 gr

    Pecorino Romano

    (top grate)

  • 2-3 tbsp about pepper grains
  • salt

Instructions

  • Bring the water tu a rolling boil, and then add a tbsp of salt. Do not use much water to cook spaghetti because you have to reserve as much starch as you can in order to make your space silky and creamy. So, fill the stockpot to the half (normally you have to fill it until 3/4);
  • Cook spaghetti according to the package directions. Stir occasionally, so pasta won’t stick together; 
  • Grate the Pecorino and coarsely crush the pepper corns;
  • Take half of the crushed pepper corns and toast it over medium low heat, swirl the skillet and stir the pepper grains with a wooden spoon, so it won’t burn; 
  • Two minutes into the cooking time, drain spaghetti and save the cooking water. Pour spaghetti into the skillet with the pepper corns and go on cooking it with a scoop of its cooking water tossing with tongs until done; 
  • Prepare the sauce with the Pecorino just before serving to keep it silky and smooth.
  • Pour half of the grated Pecorino cheese into a bowl, add about a scoop of cooking water and whisk quickly until as white as whipped cream. Add another scoop of water and the remaining Pecorino. Give it a good whisk until cheese has completely melted and smooth. If the cream gets too thick add a splash of water. Be careful: it must not be too liquid. Moreover, the temperature of the water will melt the cheese: the more mature Pecorino is, the hotter the water must be; 
  • If Pecorino sauce isn’t hot enough put it a few seconds on the skillet where you are cooking spaghetti: sauce and pasta should be at the same temperature;
  • When spaghetti is done, remove the skillet from the heat and add the Pecorino sauce. Swirl the skillet and toss with tongs until pasta is evenly coated;
  • Place pasta into serving bowls and garnish with some more freshly grated Pecorino and pepper. 

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