Cacio e Pepe
Anyone else on Master of None right now? About to up and forgo all of my responsibilities, move to Modena, and spend my time making pasta with beautiful Italians. When we told our grandma we were making Cacio e Pepe for this weeks recipe, she had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. Thank God for the internet, and the fact that the iPad is never more than a few feet away (for all of her FaceTime dates) we pulled up this handy video featuring Adam Rapoport, showing her exactly what we were referring to. Naturally she managed to throw a few critiques in ("no, that's not the way you cook garlic") and don't worry purists, we left it out. The technique of this pasta is what makes it special, so you aren't just ending up with oily, Parmesan-clumped spaghetti... ahem, Hillary.
There's so much to know about a place you've never truly experienced or grown up in. Dialect, the way grandma calls soft boiled eggs "coco", an understanding that foods are consumed in certain regions and not others. My cousin a.k.a. my real life Google informed me, of course she had no idea, this is a Northern Italian dish... also she was a little too busy carrying baskets of fruit on her head every day down in Soverato to care about cheesy emulsified pasta. It makes you want to abandon your life, and spend your days learning the history of everything, because when will we ever get a chance to know it all? I recently read your brain stops truly retaining information at 35. I've got a lot to cram into the next 5 and a half years, and I hope it's all about culture, Italy, and pasta.
Cacio e Pepe
Yield - Serves 4
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. kosher salt
500 grams or just over 1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup Grana Padano
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
About 3/4 to 1 cup of cooking water
In a large saute pan over low heat, heat the ground pepper with the olive oil. In a pot large enough to cook the spaghetti, bring water to a boil.
Turn the heat off under the olive oil and add about 1/2 cup of the hot cooking water from the pot into the pan and stir.
When the pasta water comes to a rolling boil, add the salt, stir, then add the spaghetti. Cook the spaghetti until 2 minutes under the lowest time recommended on the package. Using tongs, add the pasta to the pot with the pepper. Turn the heat onto very low and turn the pasta continuously until most of the water is absorbed.
Still tossing, begin adding the two grated cheeses, a couple handfuls at a time. If it starts to get dry, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of pasta water. Keep turning and turning, adding cheese and pasta water, a little at a time, until all the cheese has been incorporated and you have a creamy sauce coating each strand of pasta. Eat immediately.