There are lots of ways to make cacio e pepe. Some people swear that the only fat should come from the cheese itself; others use olive oil or even cream. My version relies on a sizable amount of olive oil, an approach I gleaned from a recipe from The Mozza Cookbook. The liveliness of extra-virgin olive oil complements the Pecorino.
- Bring water to boil in a large pot. Add salt, then pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente. Place a strainer or colander over a bowl or large measuring cup. Cook until the pasta is very close to ready. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup cooking water.
- Meanwhile, add the 1/2 cup olive oil, black pepper, and 1/2 cup of pasta water scooped from the pot to a very large skillet—at least 10 inches wide, but wider is better. When the pasta is about one minute from being ready, put the skillet over a burner set to high heat. Add the drained pasta to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for a couple minutes, tossing the pasta well using tongs. The sauce should stain the pasta so that it looks slippery and slick. If it starts looking dry, add a small amount of cooking water. Remove the skillet from the heat and let sit for about a minute. (This helps the cheese melt instead of clinging.) Add 1 cup Pecorino and all the Parmigiano and stir well, until the cheese is melted and evenly distributed. Drizzle with the finishing oil and toss well.
- Divide among four hot plates or bowls and garnish each plate evenly with the remaining 1 cup Pecorino. Serve.
Recipe by Scott Hocker
Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He is currently the editor in chief of liquor.com and was previously the editor in chief of Tasting Table.