One-Pot Cacio e Pepe

published Mar 19, 2020
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One-Pot Cacio e Pepe

Skip the cheese wheel and grab a pot to make the quickest and most delicious rendition of Cacio e Pepe.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook11 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

Cacio e Pepe is a beloved Roman pasta dish traditionally made from just three ingredients: noodles (generally tonnarelli but often spaghetti), Pecorino-Romano cheese (the “cacio”), and black pepper (the “pepe”). Its simplicity belies its elegance, but it’s also notoriously difficult to execute flawlessly. Many a times I’ve attempted to make Cacio e Pepe only to wind up with spaghetti in a dry, clumpy tangle rather than silky strands bathing in a creamy, tangy sauce. That is, until I discovered the magic of one-pot pastas.

With one-pot pastas, instead of draining noodles and then combining them with sauce, the noodles are cooked in a specific amount of liquid, most of which becomes absorbed. Whatever starchy liquid remains forms the sauce itself. A Roman nonna might have a conniption fit about cooking Cacio e Pepe this way, but this deviation from the traditional cooking method ensures you won’t end up with overly dry sauce —provided you vigorously stir the pan for the final few minutes of the cooking process.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

The Essential Ingredients for One-Pot Cacio e Pepe

Rather than using water, this one-pot version of cacio e pepe is cooked in chicken broth, which adds a savory note to the pasta and balances out the sharpness of the Pecorino. I like to throw in a Parmesan rind as the noodles cook to act as an extra flavor booster, but if you don’t have a spare rind (I keep a stash in the freezer), simply skip this step and stick exclusively with Pecorino-Romano.

As for the pepper, you want to go with fresh, coarsely ground black pepper; pre-ground or finely ground pepper won’t give you that bite you need. Two teaspoons may sound excessive, but you’re looking for an intense pepper flavor.

This rendition of cacio e pepe might not be the most traditional you’ll ever make, but I promise it’ll be one of the quickest and most delicious ones you’ve ever had — not to mention the version with the least amount of dishes at the end of the night.

One-Pot Cacio e Pepe

Skip the cheese wheel and grab a pot to make the quickest and most delicious rendition of Cacio e Pepe.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 11 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces

    dried spaghetti

  • 1 (32-ounce) box

    chicken broth

  • 1/2 cup

    water

  • 1

    Parmesan cheese rind (optional)

  • 3/4 cup

    grated Pecorino-Romano cheese, plus more for serving if desired

  • 2 teaspoons

    fresh, coarsely ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place 12 ounces dried spaghetti, 1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth, 1/2 cup water, and 1 Parmesan cheese rind, if using, in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has absorbed all but about 2/3 cup liquid, about 9 minutes. Add 3/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese and 2 teaspoons fresh, coarsely ground black pepper, and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the pasta is coated with a silky sauce, about 2 minutes. Discard the Parmesan rind and serve immediately, topping with more Pecorino if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.