Cacio e Pepe

Thursday,  I was feeling under the weather, so I took a sick day.  Mindy’s sick day looked like this:

*wake up

* running late to the doctor’s office so I skip coffee & breakfast

*get lost & stuck behind 15 school buses during my rush.

*see doc

*head home

*eat english muffin with natural peanut butter & Nutella

* Tweet that I want to marry Nutella & change my name to Mintella

*watch No Reservations Rome episode that I recorded on demand

*think (okay, daydream complete with drooling) about dinner…

*drive to the Italian market and purchase an obscene amount of imported cheeses

Anthony Bourdain hits up this hole in the wall restaurant and orders the special.  Rome is known for it’s Carbonara (I’ll test that recipe out next week) and it’s Cacio e Pepe.  This dish got me going.  Nothing cures like carbohydrates right?  Tonight’s din will be pastastic.

I scoured the net for the most authentic sounding recipe, and found a kindred spirit!  “A Food Lover’s Oddessy” is a blog about, you guessed it, travel & food!   Here’s the recipe from the blog.  The red type is my wacked out commentary.

Cacio e Pepe alla Roma Sparita

(Serves 2 people)

Half pound spaghetti

About 6 cups well-salted boiling water

For the “sauce”:

About 1 1/2 cups (2 large ladles) boiling pasta water

1 tablespoon freshly, coarsely grated pepper, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons butter

1 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish

For the Parmesan bowl:

3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

This dish is served in a parmesan bowl.  Like the moon is made of cheese, only it’s a bowl.

Like that.  To make the Parmesan bowl, spread a very thin layer of the cheese onto a slightly warmed non-stick pan in the form of a circle, about six inches in diameter.

Here’s my attempt.

(The cheese should slowly start to melt when you place it into the pan). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Using a spatula, slide the cheese circle out of the pan and onto a turned over bowl. (To create a pretty bowl like that at Roma Sparita, it’s best to use a mold/bowl that’s not higher than 2 inches, letting the excess fan out with creases at the edges.) Use tongs to press the cheese, only while it’s hot, down or out, as you like. Cool while you make the pasta.

Or do what I did.

Then dump it down the garbage disposal and turn the kitchen fan on.  Burnt cheese stinks. Well, at least I tried to get fancy. Cook the pasta according to the directions for that brand. When the pasta is not quite cooked, about 3 minutes before you would normally take it out of the water, Get a large pan, and add the boiling pasta water, the butter and the pepper to a hot saute pan.

Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss through the water mixture until the pasta absorbs almost all of the water.

Remove from the heat, and add the grated cheese to the pasta.

No.  We aren’t doin’ low fat up in Casa FSL tonight.  When Mama is sick, I eat what I want 😉  Quickly stir the cheese into the pasta. Place into the Parmesan cup and garnish with more grated cheese and freshly grated pepper, to taste.  I added a sprinkle of garlic powder for an extra kick. Buon Appetito!

Simple, always in season, a bit creamy, a bit cheesey, pastaliscious, and peppery.  Hopefully, next summer, I’ll be able to gush about how amazing this dish was when I ate it in Rome (not in my small Connecticut kitchen).  Until then, this recipe will have to send me away, well maybe just my tastebuds.

What’s your favorite pasta recipe?  Share it with a sistah so I can road test it, then blog about it (obviously 😉 ).

xo

Mindy

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12 thoughts on “Cacio e Pepe

  1. Hey love! I bet if you used fresh grated pecorino vs. the powdered ground kind it would have worked out. Fresh grated is the bomb.

    Looks nummy!

  2. Can I share my tip for the parmesan crisp bowl? The way I’ve always done it is in the oven. Grease a cookie tray and sprinkle grated parmesan to make a large circle of parmesan. Then put in a preheated 200c oven for 4-6minutes. I keep my eye on it because it goes from lightly golden to burnt senseless in about two seconds. When it’s a good golden brown colour remove and let it cool for a minute or two. Then use a palette knife to ease it off the tray. If you want to shape it into a bowl then just rest the crisp on top of a greased, up-ended bowl and ease the sides down to make a bowl shape. I’ve made little bowls over greased ramekins before, but I normally just leave them as discs and serve them as a garnish on risotto (can definitely recommend!!)

    I haven’t tried it with ready grated cheese but I’m sure it will be ok, and I haven’t made it for one that big. I see no reason why it can’t go jumbo sized though!! Thanks for the lovely idea, have got some great parmesan in at the moment so will have to have this for dinner one night this week 🙂 x

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