Sunday night on instagram stories… I asked if anyone in Reno knew of a good place to get one of Ashley and my favorite dishes in the whole world – Cacio e Pepe. A ton of people responded with their favorite Italian restaurants in town, but sadly not one of those restaurants served Cacio e Pepe. The one that did was closed on Mondays. Womp. Womp.
Seeing as how I’m a “take matters into my own hands” kind of girl, I googled about 15 recipes for my beloved Cacio e Pepe. I then read a couple articles on what separates the good from the exquisite. I loaded up my eCart, and I went to sleep knowing – worst came to worst – I could make it on my own the next day.
Cacio e Pepe is pretty much a sexy grown up version of mac n cheese. Obviously right up my alley. And TBH… it is really easy to make. Obviously right up my alley. Literally, if you can boil water… you know how to make this easy Cacio e Pepe. I’m actually really regretting that I ever looked up all those recipes. Because now I might just make it for myself… on a Wednesday. Not good. Not good.
The key to fantastic and easy Cacio e Pepe:
- Good Pasta: Fresh pasta is where it’s at…. but if you’re in a pinch… you can absolutely use boxed pasta. I did yesterday!
- Good Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper is where it’s at. I have linked the pepper mill that we have. I like a finer grind on my pepper – it really gets this dish spicy. The courser the grate on your pepper, the more pepper you will need.
- Good cheese: Use only freshly grated cheeses. I use this to get the best and finest grate
- Pasta water: it is important you salt your pasta water once it has started boiling. You’ll put some of this water in the sauce and the salt from the water will help flavor the sauce!
- A large pan to mix the pasta in: you want to be sure the pan you’re using is large enough to toss the pasta in the sauce. I have linked the one we use for literally every dish!
Shop Emily’s Easy Cacio e Pepe:
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 8oz pasta – I actually love angel hair for this recipe – Spaghetti however, is traditional
- 6 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 1/2 Tsp freshly cracked pepper
- 1 1/2 cups pecorino romano
- 1 cup parmesan
- Salt to taste
- Grate your cheese and grate your pepper ahead of time. This recipe goes fast at the end, so you want to be sure your have your 4 ingredients prepped!
- Bring pasta water to a boil in large pot. Add in two large pinches of salt. Pasta takes on tons of flavor while it cooks, so you want to be sure not to miss this step. You will also be adding this water to your pepper sauce, so the sauce will gain flavor from the water as well.
- Add the pasta to the salted boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally. I usually boil boxed pasta for 8-9 minutes for al dente.
- While the pasta is boiling – heat the butter in the LARGE separate saucepan on low. The key is to not let your butter burn in any way.
- When the butter has gently melted, add in the pepper and let it “toast” for about a minute on medium low.
- When the pasta has about a minute left – take 1 cup of the pasta water and add it to the butter/pepper mixture and stir to combine. The starch in the pasta water allows the pepper sauce to thicken.
- When the pepper sauce comes to a slow boil, turn down the heat. Let it reduce for about a minute.
- Turn the heat down to low.
- By this time your pasta should be done.
- Drain pasta.
- Add your pasta into the pepper sauce.
- Now…slowly add in the grated cheese while constantly stirring the pasta. It should make a very creamy and velvety sauce.
- Stir on low heat for about a minute.
- Transfer to plates.
- I like to add a little sprinkle of good salt, another twist of fresh pepper, and extra cheese on mine before I eat it. Because… why not?!?
- Boom. Done. Eat. Smile.
- The whole recipe takes seriously 15 minutes!
See… I told you it is easy. Seriously I am scared for all of us that it is really this simple. Like I said, I’ll be making this all the time now. It’s spicy, cheesy, hearty, comforting…. just all the good things. It reminds me of that amazing restaurant in Rome we went to… seriously SO amazing!
FYI: If your sauce is clumpy at all … there are a couple things that may have happened. 1.) You let something burn. 2.) You didn’t use freshly grated cheeses. Or 3.) You weren’t stirring constantly while adding the cheese.