Cacio E Pepe

When I went to Italy this summer, I knew the only souvenir I wanted to bring home was FOOD. From my suitcase emerged vacuum wrapped pecorino romano and parmesan reggiano from Rome, lemoncello from Sorrento, olive oil and wine from Florence. It’s so hard to use these delicious treats, because you want them forever! But at least I could do justice to my ingredients and thus chose a Roman classic to use some of my pecorino romano in– Cacio E Pepe. You need the best ingredients because it really is just pasta, cheese, and pepper! Therefore, I used fresh pasta, since I’ve been practicing making homemade pasta, and cut it into the classic shape used in Rome–tonnarelli. Then, I used Rachel Eats’ recipe, because I love her blog and had my best meal in Rome in her neighborhood, Testaccio! (FYI, I use Marcella Hazan’s pasta recipe.) I had to drink one of my Florentine wines as well–NOM.

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  • 100 g long dried or 130 g fresh egg pasta per person (Tonnarelli is a favorite in Rome) [I made two cups of flour worth of fresh pasta and it served the two of us plenty.]
  • 40 g finely and freshly grated pecorino romano cheese per person [Probably a little less than ¾-1 cup for 2 people]
  • 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • good quality, whole black peppercorns
  • coarse salt

Bring a large pan of well-salted water (10 g of coarse/kosher salt for every litre) to the boil.

Meanwhile toast the peppercorn gently in a small frying pan until the fragrance and essential oils open up. Crush the toasted peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Grate the cheese, finely, onto a plate. [I did not toast my peppercorns; I just ground them in my grinder, until I had about 1-2 tsps.]

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When making my pasta …

Once the water is boiling, added the pasta and make sure it is submerged. Check the pasta cooking time and the clock. Once the pasta is half-cooked lift a ladleful of pasta cooking water into the bowl, add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and whisk the two together vigorously.

Once the pasta is a minute off its cooking time, lift it into the bowl, ideally using tongs or a sieve. Swirl the pasta in the water and oil. Now using one hand to beat the pasta with the fork, use the other to start adding the cheese, handful by handful. Keep beating and swirling the pasta with the cheese until you see a cream starting to form. Once the cheese is all added, add a teaspoon of the crushed pepper. Keep beating. Add a little more pasta cooking water if necessary. Divide between plates, top with another pinch of pepper, a dusting of cheese and eat.

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