everything you need to know about the symbolic dish of Roman cuisine

Cacio e pepe pasta is one of the most representative dishes of the Roman culinary tradition.

Ancient and contemporary at the same time, it finds space both in the menus of trattorias and in those of the most prestigious restaurants, where it occupies a prominent place among the most revisited gourmet dishes by starred chefs.

But over the years, cacio e pepe pasta has also inspired poets and composers, who have extolled its goodness by celebrating an unmistakable taste in its essentiality: after all, to make a good dish of cacio e pepe pasta, you only need three simple ingredients: the pastail black pepper and the pecorino romano DOP.

It should be noted, however, that simple is not synonymous with easy: in fact, the preparation requires good dexterity, a lot of experience and a pinch of Romanism which certainly doesn’t hurt. Then there are the secrets handed down from generation to generation and tricks of the trade, which allow you to avoid the small and large pitfalls that often hide in the preparation of this dish. To make it better, therefore, it is good to follow a few small tips.

Cacio e pepe by Alessandro Borghese

Cacio e pepe pasta: pay attention to the ingredients

To prepare a cacio e pepe pasta in a workmanlike manner it is essential to pay attention to the ingredients.

The original recipe, handed down by the ancient shepherds to whom the paternity of the dish is attributed, provides for the use of Pecorino romano DOP, the only one that can guarantee the dish the taste and creaminess which over time have consolidated its success.

It is a mature cheese made only in certain areas of the country, such as the Sardiniawhere it is produced by real local excellence such as Pinna cheesesa point of reference in the dairy industry for over 100 years.

As for the pasta format ideal, traditionalists have no doubts: the best cut for cacio e pepe is the one offered by tonnarellieven if it can be tasted indifferently with macaroni or spaghettoni.

The important thing is to choose a format that has a thickness and a optimum roughnesscapable of retaining the sauce and creating a perfect balance between the consistency of the pasta and the density of the cream.

The recipe for a perfect cacio e pepe: tips and tricks

The traditional recipe for cacio e pepe pasta involves the preparation of one cream based on pecorino romano DOP and cooking water, with doses that vary significantly according to individual preferences in terms of flavor. In principle, for four people it is necessary to provide from 150 to 250 grams of cheesewhich must be mixed with a few tablespoons of unsalted cooking water, so as not to alter the characteristic taste of Pecorino romano DOP.

In this phase, it is advisable to cook the pasta in a not too abundant quantity of water, in order to favor it a perfect concentration of starch which will support the preparation of the cream.

Of course, halfway through cooking you have to add an adequate amount of salt to the water: finding the right balance in fact allows you to prevent the dish from being too salty or that the flavor of the Pecorino Romano PDO cream is dampened by an excessively bland paste.

As for pepper, it is necessary to add a teaspoon for every four people, preferably coarsely ground on the spotso that the consistency is perceptible when chewing.

Variations of cacio e pepe pasta

Like all traditional dishes, the recipe for cacio e pepe pasta has been and still is affected by numerous variations. One of the most important is that the dressing is not creamy but slightly grainy: a result that is obtained by choosing a cheese aged between 7 and 8 months.

The taste, of course, is the same in any case, but whatever the procedure, it is essential to cream the pasta and pecorino away from firein order to prevent protein and fat from separating causing lumps to appear.

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