The secret to a legit Cacio e Pepe, according to Locanda, is boiling the pasta in a pot, then transferring to a sauté pan for the majority of the cooking. The starchy water will recoat the pasta as it cooks, which creates a luxurious, silky effect without needing to use butter, cream, or any other sacrilegious add in. Try it for yourself.
Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
8oz spaghetti (Rustichella di Abruzzo or another quality brand)
6oz Pecorino Romano
salt to taste
1. Bring a large pot of unsalted water to a rapid boil.
2. Using a box grater or microplane, grate the pecorino as fine as possible.
3. Spread the pecorino out flat in a shallow container, taking care to keep the grated cheese as fluffy as possible, to avoid clumping it together.
4. Drop the pasta into the boiling water, cook for six minutes.
5. Quickly transfer the spaghetti into a sauté pan large enough to accommodate it in a shallow layer. Save the pastat water for later use.
6. Cover the pasta with 12-14 ounces of pasta cooking water and turn the heat to high.
7. Add in a generous pinch of salt, and crack in a heavy dose of black pepper using a peppermill.
8. Continue cooking the pasta on high heat, stirring frequently to ensure even cooking. After about 6-7 minutes, the starchy pasta water will have reduced down, leaving the pasta coated with thick, starchy liquid.
9. At this point, remove a noodle and taste for doneness. If it needs a bit more time, simply add another small amount of water and continue to cook until perfectly al dente.
10. Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, remove from the heat. You'll need about 3-4 ounces of residual liquid in the pan, so you can add in small amounts of pasta water if necessary. Take care not to add too much, it's nearly impossible to remove.
11. Stirring vigorously, sprinkle in the grated cheese in a steady even stream, incorporating all of it into the hot pasta to evenly coat.
12. Remove a strand, taste, and adjust with more pecorino, salt, and cracked pepper to your liking. Consume immediately. And remember, practice definitely makes perfect.