Cacio e Pepe is a pasta dish of Roman Cuisine. Cacio e Pepe means cheese and pepper in several central Italian dialects. Just as the name suggests, the main ingredients are pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese over an egg-noodle pasta. Cacio e Pepe is one of the most ancient dishes of the Roman Empire. For centuries, this simple dish was a stable among Roman shepherds. Dried pasta, aged cheese and black pepper are easy-to-carry ingredients that are hard to spoil in the fields. Today we have the convenience of butter to enhance the creaminess of the sauce.
This pasta is rich and heavy. It can be served as a pasta course for an elaborate Italian Feast or a meat unto itself with warm bread and good wine.
Cacio E Pepe
6 oz. pasta (such as egg tagliolini, bucatini, or spaghetti)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 cup finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano
Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 5-qt. pot. Season with salt; add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup pasta cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter. Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano, stirring and tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is al dente. (Add more pasta water if sauce seems dry.)
Transfer pasta to warm bowls and serve.
Original Recipe: Bon Appétit