Cacio e pepe literally means cheese and pepper. And those are the main two heroes of this mac and cheese.
It’s always important to use the best ingredients you can, but in this case, it’s doubly so since there are so few ingredients in this recipe.
How to Make Cacio e Pepe Mac and Cheese
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 7 ounces excellent grade parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup milk
- 8 tablespoons butter, unsalted and cold
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 lb. small pasta noodles (small shells, elbow, etc.)
- Pot of salted boiling water
- MAKE THE PASTA. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente, about 8 – 10 minutes. Drain the pasta but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking and sticking together.
- MAKE THE SAUCE. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. After the butter has melted, sprinkle in the ground pepper and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
- Whisk the milk into the saucepan over the melted butter. When the milk starts to steam, continue to vigorously whisk 1 tablespoon cold butter at a time into the sauce. Let each tablespoon of butter completely melt before adding the next. Do NOT let the milk boil. Lower the heat if necessary.
- After all the butter has been whisked into the milk, whisk in the parmesan cheese. With the heat on low, continue to whisk until the cheese has melted and is fully incorporated into the sauce.
- ADD THE PASTA to the sauce. Use a wooden spoon to stir and completely coat the pasta with the sauce. Pour 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water into the cacio e pepe. Stir well. Continue to add tablespoons of pasta water until the mac & cheese is smooth and creamy.
- TOP with chopped parsley.
PRO TIP: If the dish seems a little dry and not as creamy as you would like, stir in a little more hot pasta water at a time until you get your desired consistency.
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