The first time I ever had Cacio e Pepe was at a local restaurant, and I fell in love. It was amazing and so simple. I said to my wife, "I can do this". I then went about re-engineering it without any idea how it was made or, in fact, that it was actually an established, famous dish.
Later on, long after the dish became a regular in our menu line up, I tried making the dish with fresh pasta. A new store opened nearby that sold fresh pasta by the pound and the result was spectacular! One day, I was in the same store, when I began chatting with the owner. He told me that I really should be using a high quality Romano cheese when making Cacio e Pepe. He then asked me how I made it. I told him, and he said "that really isn't Cacio e Pepe". I researched it. Turns out he was right. I don't know what the restaurant was serving, but it wasn't Cacio e Pepe. I mastered the new version and I made it for my wife. She said, "I like the old one better!"
Long story short, I am still making the version I created and I'm still calling it (in house) Cacio e Pepe even though, it isn't.
This is much simpler and if I had to give it a name I'd call it Pepe e Cacio, because that's what it is. It's a very simple pasta with olive oil pepper sauce and a generous portion of cheese sprinkled on top, but boy is it good.
One thing to note, the key to making this really great is the freshly grated high quality Romano cheese and the fresh pasta. It is still great regardless, but it is amazing with fresh ingredients. —panania
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 15 minutes
- Serves 4 dinner portions
Fresh Taglierini (or dry thin spaghetti)
Freshly grated pepper
Freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt (big pinch, think British dash)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, bring it to a boil again, add the salt and lower the temp until you get a low simmer.
- Pour the freshly grated pepper (prep step) into a sauté pan (I prefer a 5 quart, but you use what you like) and heat it. (You can actually grate the pepper into the pan while it is heating; that's how I do it). *One note about the pepper... A teaspoon is good flavor and a little heat, 2 a lot of heat, a tablespoon... I like it, but my wife won't eat it.
- Once the pepper becomes fragrant, add the oil, crush the garlic using a garlic press directly into the oil and shake the pan . Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Pull the pot the pasta is in (or lift it, depending on your stove) off the burner and next to the sauté pan. With a set of tongs, pull the pasta from the pot directly into the sauté pan. once all the pasta is in the pan, add some water from the pot to get a nice sauce. You don't want it to be soupy, but you don't want it dry either. Find a balance that works for you. *One note about timing here... If you start with dry pasta then the pasta won't be ready when the sauce is. Don't make the sauce and leave it on a burner until the dry pasta is ready. Instead, start the pasta first, cook it until it is almost ready and then start the sauce.
- Transfer the pasta to a bowl or onto a few plates and then coat (not a light sprinkle but a heavy coating) the pasta with the Romano cheese and serve!