Pronounced “CA-chee-oh eh PEH-peh”, Cacio e Pepe translates to “cheese and pepper” in Italian. This classic Roman dish is a starchy wonder composed of bucatini pasta mixed with a creamy sauce made from reserved pasta water, finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and loads of toasted ground pepper!
What was once an ancient hearty staple among Roman shepherds, due to the longevity of its few ingredients, has now become a culinary commodity, served as a Primi Piatti (or first course) in hot restaurants all over the world. Nonetheless, it is no simple plate to master.
However, with our step-by-step instructions, and a few crucial tips, you too will be able to make this delicate Italian dish at home with ease! We stick to a very classic preparation; however, we add a tiny bit of olive oil for its flavor.
So, let’s explore further, shall we?
Table of Contents
What you Need to Know to Make Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
Essential Pieces of Equipment
- Two Shallow Saucepans
- Microplane Grater
- Pasta Strainer
Alternatives to Bucatini Pasta
Cacio e Pepe is sometimes traditionally prepared with long tube-like bucatini pasta. However, bucatini may be tricky to find at your local grocery store. The following kinds of pasta make excellent alternatives:
Toast the Ground Pepper
Toast the ground pepper in olive oil before adding it to the sauce. This technique of toasting the pepper allows it to become more fragrant and nutty, thereby amplifying those pepper flavors in this cheese and pepper dish.
The Importance of a Shallow Pasta Pan
Select a shallow saucepan that is wide enough to allow the bucatini pasta to lay flat in the pan without breaking. The reason we suggest that you use a shallow saucepan is to ensure the pasta water becomes extra starchy when reserved to whip up that amazingly creamy pasta sauce.
The Secret to a Creamy Sauce
To create a perfectly creamy sauce, you must use a Microplane grater to grate the Parmigiano Reggiano and the Pecorino Romano cheeses. The fine grate allows the cheese to whisk smoothly into the extra starchy reserved pasta water, olive oil, and toasted ground pepper without clumping.
Toss the Pasta Slowly
You will find that bucatini is quite thick and inflexible if you have not already worked with it. We suggest using a spaghetti server to slowly toss the pasta with the sauce to avoid breaking that long tubular pasta.
How to Store your Bucatini Cacio e Pepe
Store leftover Cacio e Pepe in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume it for up to 3 days.
Visit your local liquor store and request a bottle featuring these characteristics to find the perfect pair.
- Color: white
- Notes: apple skin, pear skin, nectarine, citrus, honey, hazelnut, anise, minerality
- Geography: old
- Structure: medium-bodied, un-oaked, medium-high acidity
Purge your Fridge: What To Do With Leftover Ingredients?
You just finished devouring our Bucatini Cacio e Pepe, and you are left with extra cheese:
Ditch the waste and top your morning omelet, add some bite to your seasonal green salad, or make this Basil Pesto with Walnuts and Pecorino for a simple farfalle dish!
- 1 lb bucatini pasta
- 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese grated
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp ground pepper
- 4 tsp salt
- 10 tbsp reserved pasta water
Grate the Cheese
- Grate the Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses using a Microplane grater to produce fine grains.
- Set aside.
Toast the Pepper in Olive Oil
- Place a sauté pan on the stovetop at medium-low heat.
- Add olive oil and allow it to heat.
- Grind cracked pepper into the olive oil.
- Toast the pepper in olive oil for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Remove the sauté pan from the heat.
Boil the Pasta
- Place a shallow sauté pan on the stovetop at high heat.
- Add enough water to cover the pasta.
- When the water begins to boil, add the pasta.
- Boil the pasta for 4 minutes. Remove pasta water.
- Boil the pasta for the remaining 4 minutes or until al dente.
- Strain the pasta.
Make the Cheese Pepper Sauce
- Add warmed olive oil and ground pepper to a room-temperature bowl.
- Whisk the sauce while adding grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, and reserved pasta water incrementally into the bowl.
- Whisk until the sauce appears smooth.
Toss the Pasta in the Sauce
- Add bucatini to the olive oil and toasted pepper sauté pan at low heat.
- Slowly toss the bucatini with the sauce until coated and glossy.
- Serve pasta onto a plate.
- Garnish with additional ground pepper and finely grated Pecorino cheese.