The perfect cacio e pepe
The traditional Roman pasta recipe for cacio e pepe – ‘cheese and pepper’ in Italian – could not be more simple and only requires three ingredients: spaghetti, pecorino romano and black pepper, therefore it is often referred to as an adult mac and cheese. These are ingredients I usually always have in the house and I used to make this quick dish so often when I didn’t have time to pop to the supermarket and needed to quickly whip something up in the kitchen.
While an authentic cacio e pepe recipe includes pecorino cheese only, it is also often made with parmesan, or a mix of both. In my version I use predominantly pecorino, though I do love to add a hint of parmesan cheese too.
The perfect cacio e pepe is deliciously creamy, and in order to achieve this you need to follow a few simple steps. Firstly, it’s important you grate the pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano extremely finely, a microplane is perfect for this, though you could of course use any fine grater. A fine grate means the cheese will melt fully and quickly, ensuring your sauce is smooth and silky, rather than clumpy and full of cheesy bits.
Secondly, you need to reserve a generous amount of pasta water, which together with the cheeses will emulsify in a super rich and creamy sauce. My final tip is adding a healthy amount of unsalted butter. Though the classic recipe does not include this ingredient, it does really help bring it all together and makes this recipe practically fool-proof.Print
This simple, easy, classic pasta repipe for ‘cacio e pepe’ spaghetti with pecorino, parmesan cheese and black pepper is deliciously creamy!
- 500g spaghetti
- 110g grated pecorino romano cheese
- 40g grated parmigiano regiano cheese
- 140g unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper (plus more)
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, season generously with salt, and cook spaghetti until al dente.
- Drain the spaghetti, saving two large mugs of pasta water (very important!).
- Return the pot with 110ml of the reserved pasta water to the stove and add the butter. Over medium heat, stir until the butter has fully melted into the water.
- Add the black pepper, give it a good stir and cook for a minute or so.
- Add the spaghetti, stir well, making sure the pasta is fully coated in the pasta water and butter mixture.
- Remove from the stove, add the grated pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano cheeses and stir vigorously until the cheese has fully melted and emulsified into a creamy sauce. If the sauce is a little dry and doesn’t fully coat the pasta, gradually add some extra reserved pasta water until you reach the right consistency. You might need a lot, do not panic and keep adding while stirring constantly.
- Taste and add more black pepper, to taste.
- Divide the pasta between four bowls and serve with some additional pecorino or parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Try to grate cheese as finely as possible, this will ensure it melts fast and creates a creamy rather than lumpy sauce.
- Category: Main Course
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: cacio e pepe recipe, fool-proof cacio e pepe recipe, easy cacio e pepe recipe, parmesan pecorino cacio e pepe, pasta with cheese sauce, authentic cacio e pepe
More pasta recipes on Michiel’s Kitchen:
- Recipe for fresh green (spinach) pasta dough
- Homemade spinach tortellini with butternut squash filling and sage
- Oven-baked tomato orzo pasta
- Pasta with spinach and pecorino pesto
- Pea and ricotta ravioli with mint pesto