Cheese. Pepper. This grown-up and stripped-down version of Mac and Cheese is a mainstay on the menus of some of the hottest Italian restaurants in the US. But, with a few easy steps and freshly cracked black pepper, you can put on your chef’s hat and enjoy this deliciously cheesy dish at home.
Work Time: 20 Minutes
Hang Time: N/A
- ½ lb fresh spaghetti (we’re partial to bucatini)
- 2 tbs butter, divided
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tsp or more coarse, freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup freshly grated pecorino
- ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan
Bring a Big Pot of well-salted water to boil. Add your pasta, cooking until al dente (tender but firm to the bite). If you’re using fresh pasta, watch carefully (and taste often), so it doesn’t overcook. It should cook perfectly in just 1-3 minutes.
Melt 1 tbs of butter and oil in your Big Pan and add at least 1 tsp black pepper and toast for 1 minute. Add 2/3 cup of your reserved pasta water and bring it to a simmer. Add the addition 1 tbs of butter and use your tongs to add pasta to the pan.
Reduce heat to low and add cheeses. Mix well with tongs until the cheese melts and pasta is well coated. If the sauce is too thick, add more pasta water. Transfer pasta to bowls, sprinkling additional grated cheese on top and serve!
Pasta water is the unsung hero of a good Cacio e Pepe. When you simmer or boil noodles, they release starch. And, using a little bit of starchy pasta water is the key to success in many well known and well-loved pasta dishes. The starchy pasta water emulsifies into a creamy, delicious sauce when added to fats like olive oil, butter, or even meat drippings. See our full guide to working with pasta water here .