Cacio e Pepe
In response to Mr. Steve Lally, who posted a question about this recipe on Rotund Chef's facebook page, here is my recipe and method for Cacio e Pepe. I grew up eating this and Aglio e Olio. When money was tight and we needed to stretch, these two recipes were our go-to's. The same is true today when cooking for my son, or when I have an unexpected guest pop over and it's dinner time. My son and I lovingly call Cacio e Pepe "Dego Mac-n-Cheese". Considering my son hates most cheese, I love that he eats SOME form of macaroni and cheese, even if that's not technically what it is. ;-)
1 lb of pasta, preferably spaghetti or bucatini (I prefer DeCecco, Giada DeLaurentis, Colavita and Anna brands)
1 tsp of dried perpperoncini
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of fresh parmiggiano regiano
1/3 cup of Pecorino Romano
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Fresh basil for garnish
Bring a pot of water to boil. Salt your water and drop your pasta in.
In a large skillet, melt half the stick of butter and drop in your pepperoncini and toast them up.
As your pasta cooks, add about 4-5 ladels of the startchy pasta water to your melted butter and pepperoncini.
Drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup of the water (just in case) and put the almost done pasta directly into the skillet. Turn heat on high and toss to coat until hot and full cooked.
Turn heat to low and add cheeses. If the "sauce" is too think, drizzle in a little more pasta water.
Let stand for 1 minute before serving and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with some fresh basil.
The trick with this dish is to use the seasoned startchy pasta water.
**Side note: I love to throw peas in this recipe (see photo below) and change up the shape of the pasta to make it interesting. Adding peas is very traditional for the part of Italy my family comes from and it takes this dish up a notch. My son loves it!!