I first tasted Cacio e pepe in the home kitchen of one of my friends who is a chef. After a late night of work, followed by an even later night of after-work, we headed back to his place for some late night food (don’t worry, or get excited,- this is not about to get steamy- at the time that this takes place I was crashing at his place in between apartments.)
Now, back to the pasta.
Some people might think that when you hang out with a chef at their house they will make you the same food that they wow folks with in their restaurants. Sorry to kill that illusion, folks. The reality is you’ll be more likely to have a bowl of blue box mac and cheese, a sad sandwich, or some cold pizza slid across the counter towards you as you wait with baited breath. Or, if you’re lucky, your friend might whip you up one of the most classic, popular, late night chef snacks, Cacio e pepe.
What is this magical dish? it’s creamy, its peppery. It’s cheesy, It’s salty. Do I need to say more? I don’t think so, but I will say its like a magical bowl of grown up mac and cheese-but oh so much better.
This bowl of pasta heaven has only 5 ingredients-salt, pepper, butter, cheese, and pasta. When combined together just so, Caico e pepe is born.
Years later, in my own kitchen, I was craving a a midnight snack and decided to try and recreate this cheesy, peppery goodness myself. How hard could it be?
First try, fail. My version basically tasted like a bowl of buttered noodles with too much pepper that I topped with cheese.
Second try, second fail. Comon. How? 5 ingredients. And I know how to cook.
Third try, fail again. Or did I know how to cook?
For my fourth try I turned to one of my favorite places for mastering a recipe. It’s where I go when I want very specific instructions, which is not often, but obviously, sometimes needed.
Fourth try, Success. Cheesy, peppery, salty, creamy success. Thanks to Bon a Petit magazines careful wording and meticulous instruction, I finally pulled it off. The key to mastering this recipe, as is true with mastering most classics, is that its all in your technique. You need fresh ingredients, yes. But you also need to know just when to add what, when to toss and stir, and when to stop adding pepper at just the righ moment before it becomes too much.
I’m not going to write the recipe out here for you, because the recipe I use to make my Caico e pepe is straight out of Bon a petit mag. So here’s the link. And the key to late night, carb-loading, food coma heaven. You’re so welcome.