Cacio e pepe pasta. Story:
Pasta “Cacio e Pepe” (Cheese and pepper pasta) is a classic Italian culinary excellence. An old dish, born from the tradition of shepherds who, in their long journeys, brought with them dry pasta, pecorino cheese and pepper. These are simple ingredients but rich in taste and nutritional properties. At that time, pasta was made by hand, only with water, flour and salt and then dried. The shepherds also brought with them pieces of lard that served as a lubricant for the iron pans. However, often, the pans were not available, so, the pasta was topped with Pecorino cheese made in flakes and pepper crushed between two stones.
This delicious Cacio e Pepe pasta has spread throughout the countryside of the Lazio region, up to Abruzzo and Umbria, lands linked to the tradition of transhumance and, from there, to the country inns and Rome.
Bucatini or spaghetti?
The choice of pasta is crucial and it can determine the taste and the success of the Cacio e pepe. Bucatini and spaghetti are among the most used varieties because they are characterized by a porous surface, able to absorb the condiments at best.
How to coook the best Cacio e Pepe pasta:
Pecorino romano is a cheese that, when melted, can form a cream. The lower the percentage of water present inside, the more it is seasoned and this can cause the formation of lumps. To obtain a delicate cream pecorino must be mixed with water and brought to the optimum temperature. The more Pecorino is aged, the more water must be increased. To avoid lumps you must use the cooking water of the pasta because it contains starch that hinders the tendency of proteins to coagulate, avoiding the formation of lumps.
Cooking black pepper is another key element. Pepper should not be powdered but whole grains. Crush the grains with a knife and heat in a pan with a ladle of pasta cooking water.
The beauty and elegance of Cacio e Pepe pasta come from the quality of the ingredients. Excellent Italian durum wheat pasta and aged pecorino PDO make the difference, allowing, once mixed together, and with the right amount of cooking water, the formation of the “cream”, characteristic of the dish.
320 g (11 oz) bucatini pasta
100 g (3½ oz) pecorino Romano cheese, grated
Fresh pepper (better if in grains), to taste
- Cook the pasta al dente in boiling salted water.
- Drain the pasta and pour it into a pot where you add 4 tablespoons of cooking water (it must not be too hot to prevent the formation of lump) pecorino cheese.
- Mix well, with the fire off. Add the pepper and serve.