Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
This is one of the hardest pasta dishes to make. One must have the best spaghetti, a very sharp aged Pecorino Romano and whole Tellicherry peppercorns in order for it to taste great. Give it your undivided attention and work quickly when making it.
1 500 gr package Rustichella d'Abruzzo Spaghetti
2 cups very sharp Pecorino Romano
Handful Tellicherry Peppercorns
Coarse sea salt for the pasta water
- Grate the Pecorino Romano both fine and coarse, so you have a mixture of textures. Grate as much Pecorino as possible. It's better to have more than less.
- In a mortar and pestle, and while covering with your hand, crush the Tellicherry peppercorns into a mixture of coarse and finely ground. Be careful when crushing the peppercorns since they will shoot away like bullets.
- Essential to this recipe is a pasta pot with the colander insert, which will allow you to work quicker.
- It's very important to drop the pasta into a pot full of boiling salted water (the water should taste like the sea).
- Drop the spaghetti into a fan form or as if playing pick-up-sticks. Do not stir nor manipulate. Cover until the water comes back to a boil. Let them soften and fall slowly into the water as it comes back to a rolling boil. Gently push the spaghetti into the water and toss very gently, being careful not to break them.
- After about 5 minutes or so, a starchy foam will appear on the surface of the water. Using a glass measuring cup or any cup, remove about 2 cups full of this foamy water and keep near the flame so it stays hot.
- Drain the spaghetti before they will be al dente and never rinse them with cold water. You need to work very quickly now.
- Toss the spaghetti right back into the hot pot you used to boil them, and turn the flame back on.
- Add a handful of the grated Pecorino and using a pair of tongs, mix the spaghetti carefully so that the Pecorino is well distributed.
- Immediately pour some of the starchy water to dilute and amalgamate the cheese. Mix vigorously. Add the crushed pepper until you see enough to resemble the skin of a Dalmatian: specks of black dotting the creamy white pasta.
- Continue to add more Pecorino and water until the spaghetti are covered with a creamy layer of cheese. Serve immediately in warm pasta dishes and eat right away.