This classic cheesy and peppery Cacio e pepe requires only 3 ingredients and 20 minutes which makes it an ideal meal for weeknight dinners. It is an incredibly flavourful and absolutely delicious creamy pasta dish without cream.
I love how fast it comes together and how simple and flavourful it is. I should admit it one of my favourite pasta dishes.
Cacio e Pepe Recipe
It a fool proof cacao e pepe recipe. If you’ve ever had any issues with Pecorino cheese sauce clumping and getting soggy pasta, you should try this recipe. I will try to explain the chemistry behind the BEST Cacio e Pepe.
What is Cacio e pepe?
It is one of the most famous pasta dishes of Lazio cuisine. It is made of cheese and pepper like mac and cheese. The authentic Cacio e pepe requires only 3 ingredients: pasta, cheese and black pepper. No BUTTER or CREAM! If you have come across a recipe that calls for butter or cream, be sure it is not a classic Italian Cacio e peppe.
How to make the classic Cacio e Pepe?
To make cacio e pepe you can’t use any cheese you like because only Pecorino cheese can give you the most authentic result. Furthermore, Pecorino has a quality to turn into a cream once mixed with HOT water and heated at the right temperature. Cheeses with high water content like Swiss, Monterey Jack, Provolone and Gouda melt better. But aged cheeses like Parmesan or Pecorino most likely will clump instead of melting. The solution is to mix grated Pecorino cheese with hot water before heating and add cheesy mixture at the end of the cooking process when pasta is cooked.
How do you prevent cheese from clumping ?
- Always bring Pecorino cheese to room temperature to avoid sudden temperature change. If cheese is too cold, the protein will coagulate quickly and as result you will get clumps and greasy texture.
- Finely grate it. You can’t achieve even melting with irregular chunks of cheese. Again cheese will become clumpy.
- Add Pecorino mixture at the end of cooking. Cheese needs to reach just its melting point and not exceed it.
Another key to the best cacao e pepe is cooking pasta. Cook pasta until al dente. Check instructions on your package. It was written 9 minutes for al dente on my package. But I drained it before the indicated time because later I cooked it in in a pan with pepper and water. This prevents pasta from becoming soggy and losing its texture.
So I cooked pasta about 6 minutes in boiling water and another 3-4 minutes in a pan with black pepper.
Best Pasta for cacao e pepe
For a classic Cacio e Pepe recipe, cheese mixture is added at the very end of cooking. When pasta is cooked, turn off the heat or reduce to a very low heat and add it. The cheese mixture should not be exposed to very high temperature and melt with the heat of cooked pasta and addition of hot water.
I am really surprised to see lot of recipes calling for butter. Yes, I haven’t forgotten to include it in my ingredient list. The classic Italian cacao e pepe doesn’t have butter or cream. The cheese + starch from pasta give the right amount of creaminess.
Whole Black Pepper
Another secret to the best and most flavourful cacao e pepe is using whole black pepper. The recipe calls for whole black pepper not black pepper powder. Crash peppers with a knife or using mortar and pestle. Heat them in pan until fragrant, then add a ladle of pasta cooking water and allow to release flavours. Later al dente pasta is cooked in this pepper broth till it is completely done.
Try other Italian recipes:
If you make this Cacio e pepe be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
All rights reserved. CHEF JAR. All images and content are copyright protected. PLEASE do not use my images without my permission. If you want to share this recipe, PLEASE provide a link back to this post.
If you make this recipe, take a photo of your creation and hashtag it # CHEFJAR on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!