Some of the best food on the planet is made from simple ingredients when those ingredients are given room to shine.
Italian cuisine is one of the culinary traditions that knows how to use this technique to full effect, and cacio e pepe is one of those dishes that everyone loves but is actually quite easy to make—if you know how to make it right.
Just ask chef Simone Panella of Antica Pesa Brooklyn.
“Cacio e pepe is a historic recipe of peasant origin and is one of the must-order dishes at Antica Pesa,” Panella says. “The key to this dish, more than in the recipe, lies in the execution. The temperature plays a fundamental role: if it is too high in whipping the cheese, the cheese will ‘shard’ by agglomerating and the result will be irretrievably compromised.”
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Chef Panella isn’t just sharing tips today, but sharing his recipe for cacio e pepe exactly as it's enjoyed at Antica Pesa. The recipe is below, but heed these additional tips before giving this timeless classic a whirl in your kitchen.
Chef says that, in order to get a good result, the mixture of ingredients must be cold. If you find you must add water to create a saucier texture, do not use cooking water from the pasta, as that water is too hot and salty.
“If you cook for different diners, the amount of pasta increases, and at the time of draining, it will retain a higher temperature,” chef says. “It is recommended to drain the pasta into a steel bowl and mix it quickly for a few seconds, so as to disperse the excess degrees, and only at that moment add it to the mixture.
“The quality of the ingredients is also fundamental,” Panella continues. “Medium-aged pecorino romano and artisanal pasta are irreplaceable, if you want to get a good result.”
If you’re ready to give it a shot, the recipe for cacio e pepe from Antica Pesa Brooklyn can be found in full below. Don’t be afraid to experiment and perfect it over time!
Visit Antica Pesa Brooklyn in NYC and online for more delicious dishes and inspiration.
Photography by: WILL ENGLEMANN