Lately I've been noticing a curious new trend: cacio e pepe everything. Chefs are making cacio e pepe pizza and polenta and risotto. Now you might say, "Hang on, by that logic couldn't you call anything with freshly ground black pepper and hard sheep's milk cheese cacio e pepe-flavored?"
And no, you can't. Because the beauty of the classic Italian pasta lies in its simplicity. It's less about what delicious elements it contains (although you can't argue with pasta + black pepper + cheese), but rather about what it doesn't. The lack of additional ingredients or embellishments creates a perfect dish: The flavors balance each other just enough that the dish never becomes one-note or too rich.
Now that we're all on the same page about how brilliant cacio e pepe is, let's talk biscuits. As a very serious biscuit aficionado, I consider them the ideal-blank canvas baked good. They can turn sweet or savory. Think of your favorite food and I promise I can turn it into a biscuit: Falafel with tahini sauce? Sure. Lasagna? Yes. Buttered cinnamon toast? Absolutely biscuit-worthy.
Cacio e pepe seemed an excellent candidate for biscuit transformation. I started with my go-to biscuit recipe—simple and exceptionally flaky—and added a hefty handful of grated Pecorino Romano and a few pinches of freshly ground black pepper.
Don't be worried about how much pepper and cheese you're adding: You need a healthy amount of both to let the flavor come through.
When they emerged from the oven—warm and golden, oozing with butter and crisp with cheese on the edges—I gave one to a friend who never has anything more than "Mmm, good" to say about food. Critical feedback is not his forte.
The verdict, mumbled through a mouthful of cheese and pepper? "These biscuits are a keeper. The best I've ever tasted."
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for topping
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for topping
- 1 cup milk