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Author Notes: You'll often see "Cacio e Pepe," (or cheese and pepper), on the menu of your favorite Italian Osteria. It's so good that it doesn't really make sense -- until you try it home with the proper technique and good quality pecorino. You could make this for yourself on a sleepy Thursday when the fridge is looking sparse, or for a late night dinner party with lots of wine. Whatever the occasion --it comes together in the time it takes to boil the pasta. I love to use Spaghetti No. 12 with this recipe, and coarse ground pepper, but feel free to grind your pepper fine, and use the long pasta of your choice. —Joy Belamarich
Serves 4 hungry people.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
- 1 pound Spaghetti
- Put a big pot of well salted water on to boil. (It should taste like the ocean).
- Ground your black pepper and dump it into a large, heavy-bottomed skillet. (Leave the heat off).
- When your water is at a rolling boil, add your spaghetti, and for the first minute or so, babysit the pot, making sure to stir the noodles around so they don't stick.
- Turn the heat on to the skillet, and toast the pepper until fragrant, stirring occasionally -- about 2 minutes.
- Add the butter and oil, and simmer until the butter is foaming and lightly brown.
- Drain the pasta 2 minutes early, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water, and dump it directly into the skillet, adding half of the reserved pasta water. Don't be frightened if at first it seems soupy -- the pasta will absorb the liquid as it continues to cook. Sprinkle the pecorino on the pasta while continuing to toss. The pasta's ready when there's no liquid at the bottom of the pan and a few strands start to stick. Immediately plate and serve!