Cacio y Pepe is the official name. In our house, we just call it Cheese and Pepper Spaghetti. That prevents a lot of blank stares when I tell people its what we are having for dinner.
The parmesan needed in this recipe is the kind you will grate off of a hard triangle of cheese. Not the stuff in the green container labeled Kraft. That is fine for sprinkling on pizza, but you will not get the same kick from this recipe without the real cheese.
Same goes for the pecorino. The bag of pre-shredded 4 cheese blend will not cut it here. to fully appreciate this recipe, you need the good ingredients. This is actually one of the few times I do NOT recommend substitutions.
Pepper and Cheese Spaghetti
6 oz spaghetti
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese
Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling, salted water until about 2 minutes before it is fully done. Scoop out and set aside 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain pasta.
In same pot you just took the spaghetti out of, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add olive oil and pepper, swirling pan until pepper is toasted, about 1 minute.
Add 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, add pasta, remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and the parmesan cheese. Using tongs, toss until cheese is fully melted and evenly coats spaghetti, and spaghetti is fully cooked – about 1 minute.
Add the Pecorino and a bit more of the reserved pasta water if mixture seems too dry. Toss just to mix, then serve immediately.
Serves 2 as a main course.
TIME SAVER – put the pasta pan in to soak while you eat for easier clean up.