Cocia e Pepe is a classic Roman Italian pasta dish. In it’s simplest form or description “pasta with cheese and pepper”. It’s typically a pasta tossed in some freshly grated black pepper, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, butter and the pasta water. It’s the worlds simplest and healthiest macaroni and cheese! And it’s under 500 calories so it might make it one of the most unintentionally healthy macaroni and cheeses around.
Recipe for Cacio e Pepe
Well, why is it that some people try and try to make this dish and can’t get the creamy consistency? I believe it is a three part answer.
- People aren’t using good quality cheese. The thing about simple Italian food is that they use the best ingredients they can get their hands on. Buying pre-grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese at the local grocery isn’t going to cut it. First of all – the new findings are that they are partially filled with wood chips. The second point is that it’s not even real Parmesan or Pecorino cheese. I know that it can seem crazy to spend $10 on a small block of cheese, but I swear, it’s worth it and it will elevate the flavors of your recipes.
- They are missing the technique. What do I mean by that? It’s a constant stirring of the cheese, butter and water in stages. You add in a little bit of each and vigorously stir so that it becomes incorporated. Then you add a bit more, stir and then a bit more and it should all come together.
- They use the same pot that they cooked the water in to emulsify the sauce. You can’t get the movement in a pot that you can in sauté pan. It also has a lot more starch in the pot that’s leftover from the pasta – so if you haven’t mastered the technique in a sauté pan you will have a harder time in a pot.
Cacio e pepe really is an amazing pasta dish that I think everyone should be able to make. Below is a 5 minute video where I talk you through how make a perfect spaghetti Cacio e Pepe.