Skillet Cacio e Pepe | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe

Skillet Cacio e Pepe

20 minutes

Skillet Cacio e Pepe

The name of this classic Roman pasta dish translates as “cheese and pepper,” the cheese being pecorino and the pepper being black pepper. After dozens of rounds of testing, we developed an unusual technique of cooking the pasta in a 12-inch skillet with a minimal amount of water into which a small amount of all-purpose flour has been whisked. The starchy cooking water becomes the base for making a cheesy sauce that won’t break and has a silky and creamy, but not at all heavy, consistency. For this recipe, we found it best to avoid high-end spaghetti, the type with a rough, floury appearance, as the pasta tends to release a large amount of starch during cooking, making the sauce gluey and too thick. Widely available brands such as De Cecco and Barilla work nicely. It’s important to use true pecorino Romano cheese purchased in a chunk and to grate it finely with a wand-style grater or grind it finely in a food processor. Preground cheese lacks flavor and has a tendency to clump. Cacio e pepe is at its best hot, so we recommend serving in warmed bowls to slow the rate at which the pasta cools as it’s eaten.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t cover the skillet when cooking the pasta so that water is allowed to evaporate. If too much liquid remains in the skillet when the pasta is done, the dish will wind up thin and watery. Also, don’t leave the skilletful of pasta on the turned-off burner during the 1-minute cooling. Remove the pan from the burner altogether so the pasta will cool more quickly (the burner’s retained heat will slow the cooling), and be sure to toss the pasta a couple times so it releases some heat. That said, don’t allow to pasta to cool for more than a minute—the temperature should hover around 185°F—or the pecorino will not fully melt. While the cheese is tossed in, the skillet should remain off the burner.

20 minutes

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