Simplify It: CACIO E PEPE / by Anthony Michael Contrino

If you’ve been to Rome, you have probably been fortunate enough devour a bowl of cacio e pepe.  (If not, what were you thinking?!)  Typically, there are only three ingredients in the sauce: starch water, pecorino and black pepper.  Sounds like a no-brainer, right?  Not so much.  Unless executed perfectly, achieving a smooth sauce is no easy feat.  

That’s where this recipe steps in.  By adding a couple of extra ingredients, you can create the sauce ahead of time, and ensure a smooth and delectably creamy finished product.  

Photo by: Andrea Patton Photography

Photo by: Andrea Patton Photography

Cacio e Pepe

Serves 4


2 ounces unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

10 cups water

1 cup finely grated pecorino, plus more for serving

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving

Sea Salt

1 pound spaghetti


Bring a large stock pot filled with the water to a rolling bowl.

Meanwhile, in a high-sided skillet, melt the butter and slowly stir in the flour to form a paste. Once the water comes to a boil, remove two cups and slowly add it to the butter and flour paste, a half cup at a time.  Whisk well to avoid lumps.  Once all the water is incorporated, add the pecorino and pepper and mix to combine.  

Salt the remaining water and cook the spaghetti to al dente.  Drain the pasta and return it to the stockpot.  Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and mix well to coat the pasta.  Scoop the pasta into bowls and garnish with pecorino and pepper.  Serve immediately.