August 24, 2010

From RW's Cookbook

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

Gather up:
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.


sybil law said...

I totally saw this this week.
And I'm totally making this for lunch this week.
Thanks, RW!

Tug said...

Please come cook for me, puleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze. I'll buy wine that's not in a box, serious!

(Yes, I *can* cook, I just DON'T.)

pee ess - I can beg ya' know.

Faiqa said...


RW said...

This one is so easy it should be in regular rotation along with other stuff you cook up for the troops. Like "oh yeah I could make THAT today" and outside of the specific cheeses everything should be right there anyway.

Gino said...

i made similar for years. something about grease and pasta with a little chees is totally awesome in its awesomeness.

i'll try your exact recipe though. i'm sure i'll love it.

is this standard spaghetti, or the thick/thin size?

does it work the same with angel hair?

RW said...

It's just regular spaghetti pasta. I don't know if you get the same texture with angel hair - I doubt it. I looked up how the Romans do it because that's where it's from. The only other kind of pasta I saw was regular size but hollow. I forget what that's called. I seriously don't think a thin pasta would be best for this.

Gino said...

thanks.the proper gauge of pasta is a big deal for some things.