This is basically the OG Adult Mac & Cheese, and one of my all-time favorite comfort foods.
Cacio e Pepe literally translates to “cheese and pepper”, and with just a handful of ingredients; it’s a front runner in my repertoire.
To make Cacio e Pepe, Pecorino Romano is mixed with starchy pasta water, butter and freshly cracked black pepper, to create a silky and creamy pepper sauce.
Cacio e Pepe
- 1 large Dutch oven something wide enough to lay the bucatini down
- 1 grater
- 1 strainer
- 1 large skillet heavy-bottomed
- 1 pair of tongs
- 8 oz bucatini may sub spaghetti
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper coarse grind
- 1 ½ cups Pecorino Romano finely grated
- kosher salt to taste and for pasta water
- Add 8-10 cups of water (enough to cover pasta) to a Dutch oven or pot wide enough to fit bucatini. The water will be very shallow because you want it to be as starchy as possible. This starchy water is critical in making the silky sauce that sticks to the pasta. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, stir in about 2 tbsp salt, return to a boil, then add bucatini. Cook pasta until just shy of being al dente (usually 2 minutes before package instructions), stirring frequently so pasta doesn't stick to the bottom.
- While pasta is cooking, melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper, then cook for 1-2 minutes to allow pepper to bloom; set aside until pasta is done cooking.
- When pasta is just shy of al dente, reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta water, and strain pasta; set aside.
- Slowly whisk in half of reserved pasta water into the pepper butter off of heat. Let stand for 3 minutes.
- Gradually mix cheese into the buttery pasta water a little bit at a time until combined. Turn on heat to low and whisk constantly until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
- Add half of the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Add remaining pasta and toss until evenly combined, adding additional pasta water a little at a time to loosen pasta and thin out the sauce.
- Top with a sprinkling of finely grated Pecorino Romano and freshly cracked black pepper.