One of my favourite pasta dishes (okay I admit that most pasta related dishes are my favourites) is the simple yet delicious Roman dish’cacio e pepe’. Cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper, and that is pretty much the dish, with the addition of spaghetti and a splash of cooking liquid.
Despite being a quite simple dish in terms of ingredients and time comnsumption, it’s kind of hard to get that perfect silky coating of cheese ‘sauce’ around the spaghetti. My previous versions have been a bit “lumpy”. But recently I fortunately learned a great trick: mix the grated cheese with cold water before mixing with the pasta.
Spaghetti (I use Martelli or De Cecco)
Pecorino cheese (in emergency use parmesan, but won’t be the same)
1. Set pasta water to boil. Add lots of salt.
2. Mix about 2/3 of the pecorino cheese with a little bit of cold water to form a thick “paste”.
3. Cook spaghetti quite al dente (will cook some more in the sauce).
4. Drain spaghetti, but save a deciliter/half a cup or so of cooking water.
5. Combine the drained cooked spaghetti, a splash (maybe half) of the cooking water, cheese mix and a proper amount of black pepper in the cooking pot. Add heat and stirr (I use a kitchen tong) until most liquid has evaporated and the spaghetti is coated by a velvety, ‘glossy’ sauce. If needed, use the back up cooking water.
6. Serve immediately topped with remaining cheese and extra black pepper.
Related to my last post, I decided it was time to have a proper cacio e pepe the other day.
Cacio e pepe is probably one of the easiest to make dishes while still really delicious. Since I am kind of lazy but still need delicious food, it’s a perfect dish for me.
Spaghetti (preferably good quality)
How to cook it
Grate pecorino cheese.
Cook spaghetti in salted water until slightly under cooked. Reserve a couple of table spoons of the cooking water before draining the pasta.
Put the pasta back in the cooking pan together with almost all of cheese, the cooking water and pepper. Stirr on low heat until cheese and water has mixed into a velvety sauce around the spaghetti. Season with (plenty of) black pepper and sprinkle the last pecorino cheese on top.
Got a revelation the other day to try to combine one of my favourite pasta dishes ‘cacio e pepe’ with a risotto. Turned out really well. Below is how to do this cheesy, peppery and smooth risotto cacio e pepe.
Arborio rice or other prefered “risotto rice”
Chicken stock (or vegetable)
Cooking the risotto
The recipe is really simple. You make a standard risotto by first frying finely chopped onion and garlic in butter. When cooked till soft (but now browned), add uncooked arborio rice and “toast” for a couple of minutes. Poor in a glass of wine and let it reduce for a bit. Then just add stock (I use chicken stock) in portions (like with the wine let reduce, then add some more) until the rice is done. It should have some bite still in my mind and the risotto should be relatively runny.
Add finely grated pecorino cheese (you could use parmesan but it won’t really be the same), a knob of butter and lots of black pepper to the risotto. Stirr and taste. If taste’s good you’re ready to serve.
I added a layer of grated pecorino at the bottom, then the risotto on top, and then some extra pecorino, black pepper and finely chopped chives on top of the risotto. Enjoy!