Cacio e Pepe

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This Italian classic dish is a great lunch dish where a little bit goes a long way.  Serve a very simple salad beforehand and you are good to go for a memorable lunch.  I usually serve this for a weekday work lunch at our Hill House.  Most lunches on Capitol Hill are awful, from dried out sandwiches to less than average food, we like to make the meals fresh, seasonal and tasty.

The traditional version does not have red pepper flakes but I like to toss them in for a little extra heat.  This is a dish that also allows a great deal of variations based on personal taste, especially when it comes to the freshly cracked black pepper and red pepper flakes so do some experimenting.

Ingredients
  • 16 ounces of bucatini pasta
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper (more if you like, just add when added to serving bowl)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, based on your own taste
  • 2 cups parmesan, finely grated, divided
  • Kosher salt

Making It

  • Bring 6 quarts of water and two tablespoons of kosher salt to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for roughly 7 minutes, just shy of al dente, reserve 2 cups of the pasta water when done then strain and set aside
  • Melt 8 ounces of the unsalted butter over medium heat, then add the red pepper flakes and pepper and sautΓ© for a few minutes, waking the pepper and flakes
  • Add  1 cup of water, remaining butter and bring to a simmer, add the pasta and 2/3 of the cheese and stir until melted, if it looks dry add a little more of the water but you do not want it to be soupy
  • Take the pasta off the heat add the rest of the cheese and mix in
  • Salt to taste but it might not be necessary depending on the saltiness of the  parmesan

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