Friday, July 13, 2012
Caccio e Pepe with Bucatina (Pasta with cheese and pepper)
I have recently learned to love this simple and basic pasta recipe.
Apparently it's an Italian classic, but I never knew about it until I read it on some blog.... I don't even remember which one, since it was a while ago, and I've done a little research since on how different people make theirs.
The other day, in the heart of the heat wave, I had a hankering for it, so I suffered through the boiling water and had it served with a few slices of left over cold grilled steak.
It's pretty simple. The original recipe is nothing put pasta, fresh ground pepper, grated grana padano (a type of parmesan) cheese and pasta water, but being me, I fudge a little and figure out how I can make the meal my own. I really enjoyed the addition of the bucatini, which is a delightful long tube shaped pasta that has some heft.
1 lb Pasta (some type of long thin pasta is best)
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan and/or romano cheese (I used half parm and half romano)
Freshly ground pepper to taste (do not be afraid of the pepper)
Reserved water from cooking the pasta.
Make the pasta according to the directions on the package. Do not forget to salt the water.
Sautee a couple cloves of diced garlic in olive oil in a large pan. When the pasta is done, strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the garlic and olive oil. Add your grated cheese to your pasta and fresh ground pepper to taste. Don't be afraid of the pepper. Mix it up a bit. It's a little sticky at this point and perhaps not quite melted. Add some of your pasta water a few ounces at a time, and stir your pasta so the rest of the cheese melts. The cheese and starchy pasta water should blend together to make a creamy sauce. And there you go, your pasta is done. Yum.
As with all simple foods, this dish will be best with fresh ingredients. Fresh ground pepper. Fresh grated cheese. But I must confess, I have made it with parmesan from a jar and a pre-ground pepper (shhh. don't tell anyone,) and I have still devoured it and licked out the bowl. Well, maybe not literally. I add the garlic and olive oil because I like garlic and olive oil, but you don't need them for this dish. And also, these ingredients are so simple that you are free to adjust measurements purely to your liking. More or less peppery. More or less cheesy. Drier or creamier. Garlic or no garlic. It's up to you.
S thought I should add mushrooms or sausage or cream, and I told him no. The delight of this dish is the simplicity. Sometimes, that's all you want.