Cacio e Pepe AKA “Cheese and Pepper” pasta is a Roman dish made from spaghetti, butter, parmesan or pecorino cheese, and black pepper and traditionally tossed in of a wheel of pecorino as a final step before serving. SWOON! 😍
While many of us wish we had a wheel of pecorino handy in the kitchen, I have a method that can still deliver creamy, nutty flavor.
Here’s why I think you’ll like this method.
This recipe achieves restaurant-quality taste and texture by first toasting the dried pasta in butter and olive oil. This step creates depth in the overall flavor of the dish by giving the pasta a nutty taste.
Then by streaming in chicken stock one cup at a time, much like how risotto is prepared, the starches are drawn out in a way that creates a naturally emulsified sauce.
Once the pasta is just al dente, a combination of both grated and shredded cheese is added, along with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper… the heart and soul of Cacio e Pepe.
After one last toss in the skillet, transfer the pasta to a serving platter and finish with even more cheese and black pepper.
A note about freshly grated cheese: since Cacio e Pepe benefits from the smooth melted mouthfeel of parmesan or pecorino, using a microplane (featured below) is very helpful. Microplanes produce fine threads of those dry dense cheeses that more easily dissolve into the warm pasta, giving you the creamiest version of this recipe.
Here’s how to make it! Watch this quick video for how I make Toasted Cacio e Pepe.
Wine Pairing for Cacio e Pepe
2020 Mixtrack Rosé
Believe it or not, but Cacio e Pepe actually pairs best with a rose or red wine. Something that offsets the creamy, buttery richness of the dish yet holds its own against the black pepper.
With that in mind, the Scout & Cellar 2020 Mixtrack Rosé (NSFB Collaboration) is an ideal pairing.
Fruity + Crisp | 90% Syrah, 10% Grenache
- 1 pound dried spaghetti pasta
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup grated parmesan divided
- ½ cup shredded parmesan divided
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add butter and olive oil to a skillet heated over medium temperature
- Break dried spaghetti pasta into pan; toss to coat in butter and olive oil
- Toast until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes
- Stream in chicken stock about one cup at a time, allowing the pasta to fully absorb the stock before more is added. This process is basically the same method used to make risotto. This step will take approx. 20 to 25 minutes.
- Once pasta has reached al dente, grind a fair amount of black pepper over the pasta and combine.
- Then add 1/4 cup of grated parmesan and 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan. Combine.
- Move the pan off the burner, stir in the other 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, and transfer to a serving bowl or platter. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan and another round of freshly ground black pepper. Serve.