Cacio e Pepe is one of the best ways of cooking pasta and enjoying the pungency and crunch of black pepper mixed with melted pecorino cheese. The dish originated in the Romano Lazio region of Italy where the cheese is made with milk from the sheep that graze the hills. As with most deceptively simple dishes, the trick is to use good quality ingredients: durum wheat pasta (dried rather than fresh) and top-notch peppercorns.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the pasta and some salt, then bring back to the boil and cook until al dente.
Warm a roomy serving bowl either in a low oven or with hot water. When the pasta is nearly ready, decant about
Drain the pasta, reserving the water and without shaking off excess water – you want to keep the pasta as wet as possible. Tip it into the bowl, add the black pepper and toss several times so that the liquid and cheese amalgamate with the pasta to form a creamy coating. Add some of the reserved cooking water, if necessary.
Serve on warm plates with extra black pepper and grated cheese.
© 2008 Christine McFadden. All rights reserved.