“Cacio e Pepe is very meaningful to me because it represents the time I spent with my father. It was the only dish he was able to cook properly and we used to eat it every time my mother was away.
Another funny story related to this dish happened later on in my life when, working in a restaurant in central London, I used to interact with costumes sitting on the bar counter. Usually, people are quite curious about our job, especially in that place where the clientele was very interested in talking about food and wines. Once a customer asked me where I was coming from and when I said Rome, he started to prise our famous Cacio e Pepe, how much he loves it and how difficult is to find a good one in here. He asked me to advise him where to go to eat for has the best one in town. I promptly said “at my house”, arousing the laugh of this man and all my colleagues. That’s how you give a great customer service!”
Based on one of our 5Chefs experience.
Cacio e Pepe is a pride in the tradition of the Roman kitchen. It’s a very ancient recipe handed down from the poorest population around Rome. It’s made with only 2 ingredients: Cacio (Pecorino cheese) e (and) Pepe (black pepper), however obtaining a great result is a bit challenging.
Originally was prepared during the transhumance since the pecorino was an affordable ingredient, also essential for the amount of fat, the black peppercorn was easy to carry and the spiciness, that was bringing up the heat, was playing a key factor. The all was mixed with a rudimental version of dried spaghetti. This dish became very popular among the Osterie (Tavern) because, thanks to its salty characteristic, guest were consuming a larger amount of wine.
Even today this plate still creates disagreement between radical and modern view, whether is about the use of parmesan (adaptation from Massimo Bottura) or just about long and short pasta, you will always find hundreds, if not thousands of different interpretation.
The following recipe is what we believe the perfect Cacio e Pepe.
for 2 people.
- 200g bronze drawn Pasta (Rigatoni, Mezze Maniche or Spaghetti n.3)
- Black peppercorn (rigorously freshly ground)
- 150g Pecorino Romano medium aged
- Bring to boil a large, tall pot of water and once it will reach the temperature, add 2tsp of rock salt or even less if you fancy a more delicate taste. (Tip: wait to put salt until the boiling part, because the solution of water and salt has a lower boiling point, so it will cook pasta differently and not to the excellence).
In the meantime grate 100g of pecorino in a medium bowl and leave it for later.
- Check the cooking time on your pasta package and make sure it will be al dente (Tip2: for being al dente, you need to take out the pasta around 2 minutes before). After you placed the pasta into the pot, the water will change color, turning to a whiteish and turbid texture, that’s the amid getting released. Take a cup and filling it with some of the water from the pot and leave it to cool down a bit. (Tip3: Pecorino has a low melting point, if you add to it water straight from the pot, it won’t melt nice and creamy but will get cooked and dense). You definitely don’t want that! In a couple of minutes time, the water into the cup will have cooled down; start to add it slowly, spoon by spoon, to the grated pecorino to make the famous cream mentioned above. ( Tip4: do not make it too liquid because when you will mix it with pasta, the latter will add already some moist. Anyway, keep some of the water so you can adjust it if you haven’t get it right at the first attempt).
- Drain the pasta at the right time into the bowl and stir it along with your pecorino cream to blend them at their best. Crack with a knife or just ground black pepper on it as well and be generous, it must be peppery! (Some people add pepper first and after pecorino) Plate it and add some more pecorino, because you know, is never enough!.