Cacio e Pepe, meaning “cheese and pepper” in Italian, is a simple yet flavorful dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the shepherds and farmers of the Roman countryside, who would make the dish with only the most basic ingredients they had on hand: Pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Over time, the dish evolved to include a few more ingredients, such as pasta, olive oil, and sometimes butter. However, despite these additions, the dish has remained true to its humble roots, relying on the quality of its ingredients to shine through.
In recent years, Cacio e Pepe has gained popularity in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles. One restaurant, Forma, has taken the dish to new heights by cooking the pasta in a wheel of cheese, creating a truly decadent experience.
So, what makes the perfect Cacio e Pepe? Firstly, it’s important to use the right type of pasta. Bucatini, spaghetti, or tonnarelli work well, as they are able to hold the sauce well. Secondly, use high-quality Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated for maximum flavor. And finally, the pepper should be freshly ground for the best taste.
When preparing the dish, it’s important to reserve a cup of the pasta water to help create the sauce. The pasta is then combined with the cheese, olive oil, and pepper, and the reserved pasta water is added to help create a creamy, smooth sauce.
So, what should you look for when eating Cacio e Pepe? The cheese and pepper should be perfectly balanced, with neither one overpowering the other. The sauce should be creamy, but not too thick, and should cling perfectly to the pasta. And finally, the pasta itself should be perfectly cooked – al dente, with a bit of a bite.
Cacio e Pepe is a dish with a rich history and a timeless flavor. It may be simple, but it is truly a celebration of the best ingredients, combined in the perfect way. Whether you’re in Rome, Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the world, make sure to try this classic Italian dish – you won’t be disappointed.