Cacio e Pepe

This is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. Although it has simple ingredients, it can be very difficult to get right. Ina Garten’s recipe is the only one I have come across that is basically foolproof. The original recipe can be found on food network Pasta with Pecorino and Pepper

1 tablespoon whole black Tellicherry peppercorns (I use whatever I have)
1/2 pound dried Italian egg pasta, such as tagliatelle  (I use 1 pound spaghetti)
1 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino Romano cheese  (4 ounces), plus extra for serving (If I don’t have pecorino I use parmesan)
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I use half-and-half)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I use salted)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (I skip this)

Place the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and crush them until you have a mixture of coarse and fine bits. (You can also grind them in a small food mill or coffee grinder.) Set aside.  I JUST USE A REGULAR PEPPER MILL
Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package until al dente.
Before you drain the pasta, ladle 1 cup of the pasta cooking water into a glass measuring cup and reserve it.
Drain the pasta quickly in a colander and return the pasta to the pot with a lot of the pasta water still dripping.
Working quickly, with the heat on very low, toss the pasta with 1/2 cup of the grated Pecorino, the crushed peppercorns, cream, butter, parsley, and 1 teaspoon salt, tossing constantly. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved cooking water. Off the heat, toss in the remaining 1/2 cup Pecorino. Serve immediately with a big bowl of extra grated Pecorino for sprinkling.

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