Creating that beautiful emulsion of freshly cooked pasta and cheese is not as hard as one might think. I should mention that the first time (ok the first ten times) I tried to cook Cacio e Pepe or any pasta with cheese my results did not always end up successful. I’ve learned thru trial and error that the key to creating that blissful creamy sauce to perfectly coat your pasta has everything to do with one key component – temperature.
If you’re like me and LOVE pasta and cheese and all combinations of it than this incredibly easy recipe is for you! This recipe is as straight-forward as it gets to showing you how to succesfully create that creamy pasta dish everyone craves.
I tend to like thicker pasta. I’ve found that using Pappardelle pasta works perfectly for this recipe. Pappardelle is a broad, flat and thicker cut of pasta easy to get your sauce to stick to.
Here’s what you will need:
1 lb dried Pappardelle Pasta – I like to spend a little more on the imported (from Italy) pasta than the store bought. The quality difference is worth the extra money.
3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese (Avoid the green capped supermarket cheese). Buy the good stuff at a local deli or Italian market. Freshness counts here.
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Stick Unsalted Butter (Do not use Salted butter! – there is enough salt content in the cheese. Using Salted butter will alter the taste of your dish completely making it too salty)
Freshly cracked Black Petter
Here’s how to do it:
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in roughly a tbsp of Kosher Salt to your pasta water. (You want your pasta water to ‘taste of the sea’ – this is a basic foundation of preparing your water for pasta.
Once cooked / al dente, drain your pasta in a colander saving roughly 1 cup full of pasta water.
In a large sauce pan (big enough to hold your pasta) add in your half cup of EVOO and set to medium heat allowing to warm.
Slowly incorporate your cooked pasta into your sauce pan along with half a stick of your unsalted butter, mixing thoroughly until the butter is fully melted. Next add in your remaining half stick of butter and cup of pasta water – again mixing thoroughly until everything is nicely incorporated.
The next step is the most important: Remove your sauce pan from the heat and slowly begin to incorporate small amounts of your Parmesan cheese constantly mixing. Continue to add your cheese and continue to stir and stir and stir. When you’re done stirring … stir some more. The key is to incorporate the cheese into the pasta quickly not allowing it to clump up – a common mistake.
At this point your pasta should be nice and creamy as seen in the photos below. The cheese should coat your pasta creating a savory flavor. Add in a healthy amount of freshly cracked black pepper on top and your dinner is ready to serve!