This version of cacio e pepe is super peppery as the pepper acts as a counter to the richness of the butter and cheese. But you can adjust the amount of pepper to your liking.
- 250 - 300 g spaghetti (or linguine or bucatini)
- salt, to taste
- 100 g Parmesan or Pecorino (or a mix of the two)
- 60 g butter (or about 2 - 3 T)
- 1 – 2 T freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for 2 -3 minutes less than the package says. It’s important the pasta is very al dente at this stage as it will continue cooking in the final stages of the sauce. Drain in a colander suspended over a heat-proof bowl to catch the pasta water.
2. While the pasta is cooking, finely grate the cheese using a Microplane grater and set aside.
3. In a large pan, melt the butter over a medium heat and add in the freshly ground or cracked pepper. The flavour of the pepper is important here, so don't skimp on it. Once added to the butter, allow the pepper to bloom in the butter to release the flavour.
4. Once the black pepper is fragrant, add the cooked pasta and roughly half a cup of the pasta water, tossing to mix everything through. Make sure the water is hot, before removing the pan from the heat.
5. Add the cheese a handful at a time, tossing the pasta continuously and only adding more cheese once the first batch has mostly melted. Before the last handful of cheese, add one more splash of water, continuing to toss until a smooth, silky sauce forms. If you need to, put the pan back on a low heat to help the cheese melt. You’re looking for a saucy, glossy result. Check the seasoning, adding both salt and pepper if you need to, before dividing between two plates and serving.
Production: Bianca Strydom
Photograph: Jan Ras