Food Gold: Cacio y Pepe

Posted on Aug 24th, 2010 in Food Gold by Mr. Goldbar

After checking out the Anthony Bourdain in Rome version of No Reservations last week I caught a glimpse of homeboy eating Cacio y Pepe, a beautiful bowl of pasta with cheese and pepper, and decided this was absolutely going to be the next recipe I shared with y’all for Food Gold.

Now, due to the stark simplicity of the recipe you need to be sure you use only top notch ingredients (I’m looking at you dudes who use the old pepper you’ve had in your cupboard for two years) so spend a few extra bux and reap the rewards.This one is a stone cold classic and a great lesson in subtly swagged out home cooking.

Cacio y Pepe (Pasta w Cheese and Pepper)


3/4 lb pasta like spaghetti or linguine (plus two reserved cups of starchy pasta water)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons decent but not amazing olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER. You must run the peppercorns through a mill to get the proper spiciness here.

1 tablespoon great quality Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon great quality Pecorino cheese (or just use another tbs of Parm)

Salt/Pepper to taste


1. Boil pasta in VERY salty (like the ocean) water until it is just sub al-dente. I think of it as approx 85% cooked. Just taste often and you will get a sense for when it’s ready.

2. A minute or two after throwing pasta in boiling water, start your sauce. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil under low/medium heat until butter is foamy. After that, add your FRESHLY ground pepper and turn the heat down to very low.

3. Drain your pasta and reserve approx 1 cup of starchy pasta water. I found the easiest way to do this is to ladle out a few big scoops into a bowl and then drain, rather than putting a bowl under your strainer in the sink, which is admittedly not a great look and potentially very painful.

4. Carefully ladle approx 1 1/2 cup water into the sauce and whisk vigorously. You are creating an emulsion here which will later make the sauce creamy and smooth. This is an important step.

5. After adding water add pasta, stir in cheeses in a few batches, check for seasoning and toss well. You are looking for a creamy, spicy quality to the dish. Drink some wine.

6. Leave uncovered for approx 6 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture looks too dry.

7. Serve with a nice vinegary salad and be excited because you just made something delicious!

Fork The World,