Monday, January 24, 2011

Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper)

Cacio e Pepe
This is a pretty easy recipe from Cook's Illustrated (sub required) for a classic Italian dish. Note that there isn't a whole lot going on here, so you'll want good quality cheese and pasta and freshly ground pepper. I don't think you need fresh pasta in this dish... and I've actually seen it argued that good dried pasta is often superior in quality to fresh... but if you've got access to something like Dave's Fresh Pasta I'd use it.

Ingredients:
  • 6 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, 4 ounces finely grated (about 2 cups) and 2 ounces coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • table salt
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Place finely grated Pecorino in medium bowl. Set colander in large bowl.
  2. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1½ teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Drain pasta into colander set in bowl, reserving cooking water. Pour 1½ cups cooking water into liquid measuring cup and discard remainder; return pasta to now-empty bowl.
  3. Slowly whisk 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water into finely grated Pecorino until smooth. Whisk in cream, oil, and black pepper. Gradually pour cheese mixture over pasta, tossing to coat. Let pasta rest 1 to 2 minutes, tossing frequently, adjusting consistency with remaining ½ cup reserved pasta water. Serve, passing coarsely grated Pecorino separately.