Watching Anthony Bourdain intensely rave about a food offered that also matches my personal cravings is a near to irresistible temptation. After rewatching one of my favorite episodes of No Reservations, the Felliniesque black and white episode on Roman cuisine, Season 6 Episode 20, my all-time preferred food show for pure edgy foodie entertainment, I was captured by the making of the first dish featured, Cacio e Pepe (cheese and pepper). Obviously from viewing, Cheese and pepper is a tagliatelle or spaghetti type pasta with the simplest of sauces, cheese, butter and pepper.
I thoroughly sought the internet to find a recipe resembling that of the featured one on Bourdain with no success, not exactly as prepared in the restaurant where he ate. So I rewatched my copy, pause button in hand, back and forth from kitchen to living room and tried to recreate it, of course with a few twists of my own! I may have colored in the lines but can’t resist tweaking any recipe I prepare, my tweaks in italics.
So here’s my authentic tweaked version of a classic Roman dish:
1 bunch of tagliatelle, enough for 4 people (I used a lemon pepper seasoned fetuccine from my local specialty grocer)
1 cup shredded quality aged parmesan
3/4 cup of Pecorino cheese (I used an aged goat gouda from Holland, I prefer it to Pecorino which is a sheep cheese)
1/4 cup butter
lots of quality freshly ground pepper from your pepper mill only! (I use the 5 pepper blend)
Begin to boil pasta in water with salt and olive oil or butter.
Prepare Cheese individual serving bowl.
While pasta is cooking prepare a non-stick omelet pan for making the cheese bowl the pasta will be served in. Sprinkle grated parmesan over the surface of the pan not to make a solid mass but something that looks like a birds nest. Heat until cheese begins to brown and become hard but pliable.
Spatula cooked parmeson and place immediately, while still warm on top of an upside-down ramiken. Shape cheese serving bowl while cheese is hot over ramiken. Prepare 4 handmade bowls with the parmesan, you should have parmesan left over.
Hopefully this didnt take you more than the ten minutes! Now your tagliatelle or fetuccini is cooked al dente (keep checking)and you are now ready with four bowls. Drain pasta and save 1/2 c. of the pasta water. In a large saute pan place freshy ground pepper to your desire about 3 tbsp. of butter in with pepper and pasta water. Take prepared pasta which is al dente and toss in saute pan with butter and pepper and add remaining cheeses parmesan and pecorino, saving some parmesan for decoration. Toss pasta lightly in hot saute pan off the fire for cheese to cover but not melt. Place pasta in cheese serving bowls and top with remaining parmesan and pepper.
Hope mine does the featured one closely since we only get to see it in black and white!