Cacio e Pepe in Parmesan Frico

I’ve been working on my blog post for our Italy trip from last September (I know but better late than never!)

As I was going through all our photos, I was getting so ridiculously hungry from all the food! At least 99% of our photos from that trip are of food and I’m not mad about it at all. From the Pizza and Pasta to the Red Wine and Prosecco, my husband and I were in a food coma for 10 straight days! I will get into more detail of our favorite meals in the Italian post next week, but until then, here is the most important recipe you’ll ever have.

These are all just Cacio e Pepes we remembered to photograph… Not including the billions of other pastas and pizza we scarfed down…

Cacio e Pepe is the quintessential pasta that not only taught me the importance of real and quality ingredients, but it also taught me the importance of a pan sauce! Now, I had this meal at multiple restaurants and it always had different variations in it’s presentation but always tasted the same: like their Italian Nonna was whipping it up in the back.

It has 4 basic ingredients: Incredible Pasta, Fresh Ground Black Pepper, Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano and Butter. The Parmesan Frico also has a very small ingredient list: Parmesan.

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Soooooo Delicious! I prefer Bucatini but Linguine totally works!

YOU GUYS THAT IS IT. Ugh, you are going to absolutely love this. Not just because it is one of the most delicious meals you’ve ever eaten but also because it is SO, SO EASY.

A few points to make that I learned as I was recipe testing:

  • Fresh Pasta is key for me. It makes the pasta water used to thicken the sauce much starchier! If fresh pasta is just not an option, use less water than you usually would to get as much of that starchiness from the dry pasta as possible!
  • Don’t overdo it on the pepper! I was putting way too much in for my first few times because I thought you needed to since there weren’t that many ingredients and that’s a noooooo no.
  • Cook the pasta a minute or two shorter than you normally would, you don’t want to over cook it when you are tossing it with the sauce in the pan!
  • Really, really, really salt the water. Make it taste like the ocean! Since you are using some of the water from the cooked pasta for your pasta, this will help season your pan sauce.

Okay, enough chit-chat. Time for the Food!

Ingredients for Two Bowls:

  • For the Parmesan Frica:
    • ย 1 1/2 Cups Parmesan grated very fine (keep the rinds for the pasta water!)
  • For the Cacio e Pepe:
    • 8 ounces Pasta (fresh is possible, I like Bucatini or Linguini!)
    • ย 1 heaping Cup Pecorino Romano
    • ย 4 Tablespoons Butter
    • ย 1 1/2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper plus more for finishing

Instructions:

  • For the Parmesan Frica:Preheat oven to 400* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
    • Split your Parmesan into two even piles and flatten on wax paper so they make two even circles
    • Bake for 7-9 minutes until you see the cheese get wonderfully golden
    • Here’s the tricky part! You have to make them look like bowls so quickly grab the parchment paper while the cheese is still warm and melty and lay over the bottom end of a bowl until cool (takes around a minute!). Remove from bowls and let cool completely while you make your pasta.
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My stupid bowl had a base but whatever.

  • For the Cacio e Pepe:In a large pot, bring 5-6 cups of VERY SALTED water to a boil along with the leftover parmesan rinds (4-5 cups if you are using dry pasta!) and cook pasta a minute or two LESS than package instructions.
    • While your pasta is cooking, melt your butter in a large pan. When the butter is nice and liquidy, add your pepper and let infuse for a minute or two, being careful not to burn your butter.
    • When your pasta is done cooking, remove 1/2 cup pasta water then drain. Add the pasta water plus 1 cup of your Pecorino to the pan and stir.
    • Toss your pasta in the sauce. If the sauce is still too wet, simmer with the pasta until it thickens and sticks to the pasta like you know you want it to. (This is why we undercook the pasta a bit!)
    • Serve your incredible pasta inside your Parmesan Fricos, topped with some extra pepper and cheese, along with some prosecco from Treviso and enjoy your night in Italy at home!
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    • Treviso Prosecco is a Muuuuust! Find it at Trader Joe’s!

I hope you enjoy this pasta as much as we do! I promise it is almost as good as what you get from the true source. ALMOST

Love, Chelsea

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