Arsip Tag: cacio

foolproof cacio e pepe – smitten kitchen

Soon, extremely soon, I’m going to tell you more about our 12 days in Andalucía but before that, before summer is truly over, before I start thinking about cooking more complex meals again, before I even consider turning on the oven again, I wanted to tell you that this summer was the year I finally figured out how to make cacio e pepe, one of my favorite pastas, as good at you’d have in Rome, and we cannot let the summer end until you do too.

NEW: Watch me make this on YouTube!

Huh? Deb, you wrote about it years ago, in 2011. But the recipe always bothered me, and the reason is written out right in it: authentic cacio e pepe contains only three sauce ingredients: pecorino romano (this is the cacio, the cheese), black pepper (this is the pepe, ground to your desired texture, often toasted first if you’re going for extra flavor), and pasta, plus splashes of the pasta’s hot starchy cooking water to form a sauce. It doesn’t contain oil, butter, cream, flour, cornstarch or any other binders. The trouble begins when you try to merge/coalesce/magic together water and cheese into an emulsified, creamy sauce. Ever tried to mix oil and water? In my kitchen, it goes about as well as you might imagine.

all you need

with a fp, you can also grind the cheese
a paste of cold water, cheese, and pepper
collect your pasta water before you drain your pasta

Frustrated in 2011, I added a little cream and butter* to make it work. But I never “finished” the recipe in my mind. Since then, I have tried — this is barely an understatement — every single 3-ingredient technique on the internet and in cookbooks I could track down, I have watched videos completely in Italian to try to glom how they do it, walked into the kitchen, repeated their exact steps, and failed every time. I try about 6 times a year. It’s been 7 years. I never, ever succeed in magic-ing pasta water and cheese into a smooth sauce. The cheese melts before it glues itself to the noodles, cementing itself instead to the pot, the bowl, the tongs, the stuff of dishwashing dread. I imagine this sounds familiar to others.

piping hot pasta
add sauce base to taste

When someone emailed me (hi, Annie!) earlier this summer and told me about Flavio de Maio’s (of the restaurant Flavio Velavevodetto in Rome) method as shared by tour guide and Roman cooking expert Elizabeth Minchilli on her site, I was fresh off my latest cacio flop and thanked her, but expressed my doubt that this would be This One. That was 2:12pm. At 6:12pm, I sent her a photo of our dinner and told her she’d changed my life, and I hope yours, possibly in the next 20 minutes.

toss and loosen with pasta cooking water
foolproof cacio e pepe

* it was good enough for Batali, so it was good enough for me, I rationalized in 2011; what different times those were

I wrote a thing: I wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times about a favorite subject — cooking and why it’s terrible and you should never do it. Here’s the link. I hope you read, uh, to the end.


One year ago: Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime and Cotija
Two years ago: Burrata with Lentils and Basil Vinaigrette and Eggplant Parmesan Melts and Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Three years ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce and Crispy Peach Cobbler
Four years ago: Smoky Eggplant Dip and Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles
Five years ago: Rice-Stuffed Tomatoes and Almond-Crisped Peaches and Key Lime Popsicles
Six years ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes and Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread
Seven years ago: Zucchini Fritters and Naked Tomato Sauce
Eight years ago: Sweet Corn Pancakes, Eggplant Salad Toasts and Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Nine years ago: Plum Kuchen, Lighter, Airy Pound Cake, Summer Pea and Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad and Lobster Rolls
Ten years ago: How to Poach an Egg, Smitten Kitchen-Style, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
Eleven years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese
1.5 Years Ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegranate Grapefruit Paloma
2.5 Years Ago: Belgian Brownie Cakelets and Broccoli Melts
3.5 Years Ago: Pecan Sticky Buns and Perfect Corn Muffins
4.5 Years Ago: Stuck-Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

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corn cacio e pepe – smitten kitchen

This recipe is adapted from my 2018 Foolproof Cacio e Pepe, which uses a technique from the chef of Flavio Al Velavevodetto in Rome, which I learned via tour guide Elizabeth Minchilli. To understand why starting with a cold sauce works, read the 2018 headnote. You can watch me make this without corn on YouTube. This recipe works best with cheese from a block, not pre-grated. The directions below are highly detailed (even for me!) because I want you to get this perfect, too.
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) olive oil
  • About 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 medium-large ears)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 pound (455 grams) dried linguine or another pasta of your choice
  • 8 ounces (225 grams) pecorino romano cheese, cut into 1-inch chunks, plus a few extra gratings for garnish
Prepare the corn: Heat a large skillet (or the empty pot you will use to cook your pasta) on high heat for one minute. Once hot, add the olive oil, and let the oil heat for one minute. Add the corn kernels, and season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir them once or twice, just so they’re evenly coated in the oil and leave them be. Don’t stir again for 3 to 4 minutes, or until toasty brown underneath. Step back as they might crackle and pop, especially towards the end. Add butter and stir to combine, then scrape everything onto a bowl and set aside.

Cook the pasta: Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook linguine until about 30 seconds short of perfect. [We’re not going for a full al dente here because the pasta dish is finished off the heat, thus will not continue cooking.] Before you drain the pasta, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Get your sauce ready before the pasta has finished cooking, as we want to add it to piping hot noodles. In a food processor or high-speed blender, blend pecorino and approximately 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper until the cheese is in as fine pieces as it can get. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water, one at a time, fully blending each addition before adding the next. You’re looking to take the cheese from a powdery to a creamy consistency, like frosting for a cake; blend the mixture as long as is needed (about 1 minute) to get it there. Taste the mixture: it should be very salty and peppery; add more pepper if needed (aged pecorino is usually very salty, but if you’re using something else, add salt here too).

Assemble and eat: As soon as your pasta is drained, add it back to the empty pot along with the black pepper-pecorino sauce. The sauce will be too thick for the job, but do your best to distribute it evenly over the noodles. Then, begin adding the reserved pasta water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, tossing the pasta the whole time. This will loosen the cheese mixture into a nice saucy consistency. Keep adding water, tossing the whole time, but not so much that the sauce “washes” off the noodles. Add reserved corn and toss to mix, then transfer everything to a serving bowl. Finish with more cheese and black pepper and eat right away.

Do ahead: This is not my favorite dish to reheat, but you can make the corn in advance (an hour or a day, just reheat it), and the cheese-pepper sauce (up to a week in the fridge), and have everything ready to go when the pasta is piping hot.

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