I swear I'm going to make one someday. I've got a big blue envelope full of these things and one day... watch out.
Cacio e Pepe
This is so simple, fast, and easy to make it's almost criminal.
What's important here? You need to get wedges of the cheeses listed below and hand grate them. I don't even know if they're available in shakers but even if they are... how dare you. Yes they're a little on the expensive side but grate the whole wedge and use the rest on your spaghetti and meatballs or whatever. It'll get used. Outside of that, this is an incredibly inexpensive meal. Also the pepper. Fresh ground. Nothing else will work. The entire trick of this dish is the play between the creamy and the pepper. Italian cooking - it's all about the ingredients. If they aren't the "real thing" fuhgettabouttit.
This serves ONE. For 2 use 3/4 of a pound of spaghetti and DOUBLE everything else
Just under 1/2 lb. spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (or more - your call) freshly ground pepper
"1/2 ladle" of the spaghetti cooking water
1/4 cup of freshly ground pecorino romano
1/4 cup freshly ground parmigiano reggiano
*Boil that spaghetti al dente (say 6 minutes because it'll go above a flame for a brief while later anyway)
*Put butter, olive oil and some of the pepper in a pan. Melt the butter and mix it in. Keep it fluid, don't burn. Say, maybe, just below medium heat.
*When spaghetti is finished, take out 1/2 ladle of the water the spaghetti cooked in and drop that half ladle full into the pan with the butter sauce. If it sizzles and steams a little yer doin' it RIGHT(if you use a strainer, strain the rest of the water out of the spaghetti here).
*Lower the flame after you mix all that together before you do the next step.
*Drop the spaghetti in the pan and mix it up (toss) to coat with the concoction in there.
*Toss in most of the grated cheeses and the other 1/2 of the pepper and mix it up again.
*Put it on a plate and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and any more pepper you want to add. It isn't right unless you can see the pepper in the creamy stuff.
Also important is don't overcook the spaghetti - al dente is al dente. 6 or 6 1/2 minutes should be fine.
It's supposed to look like this...
So what? Well it's the cheeses. That's the whole deal. Change or skimp there and it's not the same. I've seen this done with added arugula and other stuff but I don't know... this is the version you'd find in a hundred random kitchens in Rome. If you saw this on Bourdain this week - this was the one he inhaled.