Pici cacio e pepe
Pici cacio e pepe is a traditional recipe of mixed origin. While pici shaped pasta comes from the area around Siena, cacio e pepe is generally considered Roman heirloom. Still, the ingredients suit each other nicely.
A recent visit to Southern Tuscany introduced me to the local, hand rolled pasta known as pici. A thick macaroni type of noodle that can be found in a thousand different versions throughout the region. I had pici cacio e pepe at a restaurant in Siena, and it was absolutely delightful, which is why I’ve continued to make my own version at home.
This version violates the strict pici cacio e pepe rules by using garlic, butter and red pepper, but I find the additional ingredients enhance the flavour. The most important thing, however, is getting the consistency right. The sauce should be thick and creamy, so make sure you get the emulsion of cheese fat and cooking water right.
For the pici
400 g flour
100 ml water
For the sauce
1 clove of garlic
A knob of butter
50 g grated Tuscan pecorino
Red pepper to taste
Make a volcano of flour on a clean table top.
Pour water in the middle and use a fork to mix in the flour
Add more water if necessary.
Start kneading when the pasta resembles a dough and keep at it for 10 minutes (you can also run the dough several times through a pasta machine at maximum width).
Wrap the pasta in cling film and leave it to rest for 30 minutes or more.
Form a rectangle of the pasta and cut it in thin regular strips
Roll and stretch each strip into a long noodle and cook them for 4 minutes in boiling salted water.
Peel the garlic and fry it in a little olive oil, but don’t allow it to take colour.
Remove the garlic from the casserole, turn down the heat.
Alternate between adding grated pecorino and an equal amount of cooking water from the pici.
Stir the water and the pecorino until it starts to melt, before adding more cheese and water.
Top it off with a knob of butter to make a thick, creamy sauce.
Drain the pici and toss it with the creamy cheese sauce.
Top the pici cacio e pepe with generous grinds of red pepper.