Pici Cacio e Pepe

The classic Roman pasta dish of pici cacio e pepe is incredibly easy to make with this authentic recipe from the Trullo cookbook. The cheese and pepper sauce is irresistible.

Trullo
From the book Trullo
By
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Introduction

Cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) is a classic dish from Rome and is one of our most popular dishes when it goes on the menu.

Romans use pecorino but we prefer high-quality, aged parmesan because it gives the dish more depth of flavour. But if you want to keep it traditional, swap the cheese in the ingredients list below.

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the pici dough:
375g white bread flour
180ml water
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch fine sea salt
For the sauce:
160g unsalted butter
100g parmesan, finely grated
4 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

Instructions

First, make the pici dough.

Add the flour to a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix together the water, olive oil and salt and pour into the well. Start incorporating the flour into the water/olive oil/salt mixture until a dough starts to form. Once it forms, take the dough out, transfer to a clean table and start kneading it until it becomes smooth. With a rolling pin, shape it into a rectangle about 2cm thick, wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes somewhere cool.

To make the pici, cut the dough into 15g strips (weigh one to check and use as a guide) and keep covered with a damp tea towel. On a dry, clean work surface – stainless steel or wood, you don’t want something too smooth as a little bit of friction helps – start rolling the strip outwards, with both palms of your hands, applying pressure evenly and pushing out, until you have a noodle the same thickness as a biro. Basically, you’re making wriggly worms. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Cook straight away, or, if making in advance, store lengthways on a heavily floured tray (they stick together) covered with cling film and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.

In a large saucepan, bring water up to the boil and season with salt to resemble mild sea water. Drop the pici in water and cook for 5–6 minutes. Meanwhile, add the butter, black pepper and a splash of pici water to a saucepan on a medium heat and then turn down to a low heat until they emulsify (melt into each other).

When the pici are cooked, remove them from the water and add to the saucepan with the butter and pepper. Keep the pasta water. Add the parmesan – but do not stir. Leave the parmesan to sit and melt from the residual heat of the pan – this prevents it from becoming chewy little cheesy balls. Once the parmesan has melted, stir the pici and sauce together to incorporate. Season with salt and serve immediately.

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