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Rediff.com  » Getahead » Food » Recipe: Vinay's Classic Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Recipe: Vinay's Classic Cacio e Pepe Pasta

By ZELDA PANDE
Last updated on: July 13, 2022 23:20 IST
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My investment strategist and former hedge fund manager cousin Vinay Pande cooks super tasty pasta like this simple but Classic Cacio e Pepe Pasta he put together with a flourish in front of me.

Cooking and food are a passion for him, among other innumerable passions, and he is especially knowledgeable about all things related to food, wine, liquor.

His Greenwich, Connecticut home has more cookbooks than probably his locality's public library and his kitchen is a gourmet's paradise.

This recipe has just a few ingredients, is very easy to cook, but needs to be followed carefully.

Vinay's Cacio e Pepe

Photographs: Zelda Pande

Vinay's Classic Cacio e Pepe Pasta

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp peppercorns, roasted and coarsely crushed
  • 6 oz or 180 gm uncooked bucatini (please see note below)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter for sauteing the pepper
  • ½ cup pasta water
  • ¾ cup powdered fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup powdered fresh Pecorino cheee
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter for buttering the pasta
  • No additional salt, but if adding salt use coarse sea salt.

Method

  • Please see the steps in the photographs below too.
  • Boil the bucatini in not too much water and no salt -- because the starchier the water the better -- till 1-2 minutes short of al dente (please see the note below).
  • Start preparing the sauce when the pasta has been cooking for 4 minutes about.
    In a small frying pan over low heat, saute the butter with the crushed peppercorns for a few minutes.
  • Add ½ cup pasta water from the boiling pasta pot and simmer a few minutes more.
    Now add the almost al dente bucatini to the butter-pepper-pasta water mixture and cook a few minutes more.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese.
    Let it melt a bit and form a thick sauce.
    Turn off heat and add the Pecorino cheese and mix well.
    And 1 tbsp butter.
    Serve immediately.

Note:

Al dente means 'to the tooth' or pasta that has a bite to it.
Packets of pasta usually have their cooking time listed on them. To make a pasta al dente, subtract one minute or 1½ minutes from the regular cooking time.

Both Pecorino and Parmesan are very salty cheeses. You will likely not require any additional salt.

Bucatini is a thick hollow spaghetti-like pasta perfect in thickness for buttery Cacio e Pepe. It is available online and at some gourmet shops. Spaghetti is generally a poor substitute, but can work.

Pecorino is available at most specialist cheese shops. If not able to locate, use all Parmesan for this recipe but adjust the salt because Parmesan cheese has less salt.

Cacio e Pepe pairs well with a dry wine, ideally an Italian dry wine, and for meat lovers the pasta course can be preceded by an antipasto course of prosciutto or any other cured or pickled meat with bread, olives, anchovies and cheese.

Step 1

Sauteing the pepper

IMAGE: Sauteing the pepper in unsalted butter while the bucatini boils.

 

Step 2

Adding the al dente pasta and water to pepper and butter

IMAGE: Adding the al dente pasta and pasta water to pepper and butter.

 

Step 3

Adding the Parmesan cheese

IMAGE: Adding the Parmesan cheese.

 

Step 4

Adding more butter

IMAGE: Adding 1 tbsp more unsalted butter.

 

Step 5

Thickening the Parmesan cheese into sauce

IMAGE: Thickening the Parmesan cheese into a sauce and the Pecorino cheese will be added after turning the heat off.

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ZELDA PANDE