“Cheese and Pepper”
There is nothing more basic and easy then this classic pasta recipe that is nothing more than black pepper and parmesan cheese. The secrete to making this easy pasta recipe is making the “sauce”. With the addition of butter, and a little pasta water added to the cheese; the whole things comes together as one of those sauces that hangs on to each individual piece of pasta. The French have a sauce called buerre monte. This “sauce” is simply prepared with a touch of water while you whisk in cold butter to make an emulsion, its not really a sauce. It really is melted butter that has been emulsified when its still warm and hasn’t separated from the milk solids. But you can add this warm emulsified butter to any protein or vegetable and it glazes and stick to whatever you add it to without separating. This is basically the same principle that you would use to make this cacio e pepi sauce with the addition of parmesan cheese and black pepper to the water and butter. This is the secrete to have a “sauce” stick to the pasta without having your pasta covered in a mound of sauce (like how all american pasta is cooked with loads of sauce”, I’m guilty at times doing this, I love sauce! )
Using the pasta water gives you a little salty pasta flavor that is traditional Italian cooking. Now you can use any noodle that you prefer. This recipe was one that was inspired by my recent trip to Tuscany. I have never had Pici pasta before, I don’t think I have ever seen it, before spending a week in Cortona, Italy. I had Pici on three different occasions during that week. Once was with squab that was amazing and the other two were with ground veal which was equally amazing. I was in love immediately with Pici. All three dishes had this basic butter sauce, maybe a touch of cream added, but typically what you would see in northern Italian pasta cuisine. Pici noodles are a mix between spaghetti and bucatini except the noodle aren’t hollow like bucatini. It is a basic eggless or dried pasta dough that is rolled out into ropes. Not too thin, the noodles should be a little bigger/thicker than spaghetti. I didn’t take the time to completely dry these noodles out so I used them more like a fresh pasta. Here is the easiest pasta recipe, I hope you enjoy it!
2 cups semolina
1 cup 00 flour
1-1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup pasta water
4 oz of shredded parmesan cheese
1-1/2 sticks of butter
12 oz of pici pasta cooked
1-2 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
For the Pasta,
In a bowl with both flours mixed well. Make a hole or well in the center of the flour. Add the warm water and mix with your hands until you make a dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and then wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. Then using a bench scrapper or knife cut the dough in half. Then cut the dough into 5 equal slices. Cut those slices in half again so you should have 10 small pieces of dough about an inch long or so. Take one piece and start rolling them with your hands into long ropes. You don’t want to stretch the dough but the pressure from your hands should lengthen the pici pasta. Continue rollin until you have long noodles ( you might have to cut them in half if they are really long) that a touch bigger than spaghetti. Then place on a sheet pan lines with parchment and lots of semolina flour. Try not to add a lot of flour when your rolling out the pici (this might dry out and crack your dough)
Fill a large pot with salt water and bring to boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook for 3-5 minutes until tender. Meanwhile in a large sauté pan add 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, the grated Parmesan and Butter. Swirl the pan around so that the butter and cheese start to melt and become a sauce like consistency (1 minute). Add the drained pasta, toss to coat the pasta well and season with salt. Garnish with black pepper and more parmesan cheese. Serve and enjoy this fantastic, easy pasta dish that will quickly be a go to, in your recipe book!.