What’s a Cacio e Pepe? In one sentence: one of the most traditional recipes of Italian cuisine, namely from the Lazio region. You only need two ingredients, plus the pasta, to make it. Easy, right?…not really! There are some tricks you have to learn if you want to serve a creamy, non-sticky Cacio e Pepe.
We interviewed Russel, an English tour guide who works for Carpe Diem Rome. He brings curious tourists all around Rome with tours that are crafted to ensure you get the most out of Rome‘s rich history, providing all the incredible facts and captivating stories that made Rome the centre of the ancient world. Russel opens up to us and shares his recipe, comprising his tips, for a perfect Cacio e Pepe.
Keep on reading and let yourself be enchanted by the charm of the Eternal city.
🍷Francesca & Marinella🍴
INGREDIENTS for 4 servings
Ready in 30 min
350 g pasta (Spaghetti or Tonnarelli)
200 g Pecorino Romano
Heaped tablespoon of Black Peppercorns (you can used mixed if you like)
Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Use enough water to cover and cook the pasta but not too much. The starch of the pasta water is essential for the dish Add your pasta to boiling water, mix and salt when the water is boiling again.
Take the whole peppercorns and crush them, put them in a frying pan or wok to toast them on a low heat. You will smell the pepper aroma as the cracked pepper toasts.
Add two ladles of pasta water to the peppercorns and lower the heat, you want the water infused with the pepper.
When the pasta is almost ‘al dente’ (slightly undercooked), remove the pasta ( keep the cooking water) and add to frying pan with the water and the peppercorns on a low heat to cook, stirring continuously. The pasta will start to shine.
In a small bowl add half the pecorino and a ladle of pasta cooking water and mix with a whisk until it is a creamy consistency. Add the rest of the pecorino, more water and whisk again.
Take the pan with pasta and pepper off the heat. Mix the cheese cream into the pasta stirring continually coating all the pasta and ensuring the sauce does not touch the hot pan for too long. If the consistency is too dry you can add more pasta water.
Serve with another sprinkling of pepper and more pecorino if desired.
Tips to get a perfect Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe:
- Try to use a fresh pecorino so that the grated cheese melts into the pasta cooking water to a cream
- The pasta cooking water is essential to achieving the creaminess of this dish – no oil or cream are required!
- The temperature of the pan is very important – if it is too hot your cheese sauce will become a rubbery mass of cheesy rubber at the bottom of the pan!
So, let’s get to know Russell!
Do you want to introduce yourself, telling us where you are originally from, where you live at the moment, and how you spend your free time?
I’m a coffee, gelato and fitness lover from the UK. I’ve been working in Rome as a Tour Guide since 2015 after spontaneously moving to Rome on an interrail trip. Currently I reside in a trendy area of Rome called Monti, it’s located just a 5-minute walk from the Colosseum… Check it out! When I take my guide badge off a few things you might find me doing is running, muay thai kickboxing, watching sunsets, scuba-diving, meeting new people, and experiencing new things.
What do you like most about the Italian culture and traditions?
There are many things about Italian culture that I love but one of my favorites is Aperitvo! It’s basically an Italian happy hour where you can expect to pay around 10 euros for a long drink of your choice, typically negroni or spritz, which also grants you to a selection of bar food. Kind of like a buffet of finger food. Get involved.
What do you like about Italian people?
The passion that Italians put into their food is amazing. Every region has its own specialties and recipes to offer!
Talking about food, what’s your favorite product from Italy that you can buy where you are living?
My favorite food that I can buy where I am living is a Trapazzino, it is a street food born in a Roman neighborhood called Trastevere. You have to get lost in dwindling postcard-perfect backstreets of Trastevere when in Rome and of course, get your mouth around these delicious pizza pockets! Link for Trappazino: https://www.trapizzino.it/en/
What’s your favorite Italian recipe which you use to prepare often and easily?
Carbonara is my go to! Eggs, pasta, cheese, pepper, and bacon. When you master it you can easily smash it out in 15 minutes!
Which place in Italy do you love particularly and you would suggest for our followers to visit?
The Amalfi Coast is an unforgettable experience I strongly advise you have once in your life, It is impossible to not fall in love with the Amalfi coast. Last year I hiked it with a few friends and it was extremely rewarding… I’ll definitely be heading back again!