|Julian's Creamy Cacio e Pepe|
Finely grated Pecorino cheese and very hot water are essential to a smooth sauce, while fresh, coarsely ground black pepper gives flavor and texture. The most important component of a flawless cacio e pepe, however, is speed. If the water cools before melting the cheese, the sauce will clump. I find having a helper is best when making this dish. One person tosses the hot pasta while the tosses in the cheese, pepper, pasta water and olive oil.
|Julian grating cheese in Italy.|
Salt for the pasta water
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns,
or more to your taste
1 pound pasta noodles of your choice
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, grind the peppercorns very coarsely. Note that the measurement of peppercorns is done BEFORE grinding.
Cook the pasta until al dente (just a bit chewy). Scoop out and reserve 2 cups of the starchy hot pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot it cooked in. Work quickly.
Immediately scatter most of the grated cheese and most of the ground pepper on the pasta, and toss together quickly. As you mix, add a little of the reserved hot water to moisten and amalgamate the pasta with the cheese. Add more water as necessary to create a creamy sauce. Toss with a little olive oil to lubricate further, as the pasta will continue to absorb the water and it may become too dry as it cools without the oil. Sprinkle the top of the pasta with the remaining cheese and pepper. Serve while the pasta is hot.