Did I Just Make Cacio E Pepe Better ? (Italians don’t watch)

Did I Just Make Cacio E Pepe Better ? (Italians don’t watch)


This video is brought to you by my supporters on Patreon. Hey guys salut, it’s Alex. Welcome back to the ‘Cacio E Pepe’ miniseries thingy. Today as promised I’m going to try to improve the original ‘Cacio E Pepe’ recipe. In fact, if you’re looking for the classic, original, geniune ‘Cacio E Pepe’ recipe then watch the previous episode. This is not for this, okay? This episode is meant to be more adventurous. It’s meant to be more playful, if you wish. With the rules of that dish, ’cause you see hold on a second, because I need some props for the next scene. These rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent, others can be broken Now, I know I said I was going to improve that dish, and I stand by this statement. Of course But, you know, improving a recipe can be a bit misleading, so Lets just have a seat and try to think about that very concept A better recipe can basically be more efficient for example. Like faster, easier, more economical. It could also mean more reliable, a more dependable recipe. Something that wouldn’t be that easy to screw up. And finally, a better recipe could mean a more flavorful recipe. I know this is very subjective of course. But this is my video. So the whole video is very subjective. The fun part is that I want to do all those improvements while maintaining the integrity of the dish. Otherwise it’s not fun, it’s not fun. That being said, I will guide you through my brand-new, updated process, my Cacio E Pepe process and I’ll make sure to sprinkle a few tips and tricks along the way. That’s how I sprinkle tips and tricks. Da da da dong. Right, lets go. The next move, probably as the greatest impact on flavor. I’ve seen countless recipes online mentioning that you should be using premium Pecorino cheese. But very few- zero, to be honest- talk about the pepper, the black pepper. Hmmmm… What about the flavours? What about the specifics? Like, is it in pace with the recipe? The place we’re going to is called Le Comptoir des Poivres And they basically don’t have one premium black pepper. They have dozens. [Piano Music] [Piano Music]
[Scanner beeps] [Piano Music] I got two in the end. Colombian Putomayo black pepper. And this one: Indian Kerala black pepper. So I’m going to perform a little taste-test, just to see which one goes better with the Pecorino cheese. Smells incredible…so much more than just pepper. First off, I’m gonna have a piece of cheese. And then, one peppercorn. The Indian one. [Crunching] Wow. Wow.
Pungent, like eating something else other than black pepper, to be honest. Whaaa. Whaaa.
A hint of smokiness Next one: [Gargling] mmm…Ahhh…. There is a bit of sweetness. Wow. Wow. This one’s quite hot, but I like it very much. And also there is this tangy, slightly citrus-y flavour at the back of the tongue. It’s standing so far away from the bland, supermarket staple food. Okay, my mind is set. I’m going for the Colombian Putomayo black pepper. So in terms of tools, I’m going to be as frugal as the recipe itself. I’m going to use only one frying pan- a big one, wide and shallow. In order to toss those pastas around. If you were to use, like a crêpe pan for example… …not sure a crêpe pan is super common outside of France… …that would be the worst, I’m just saying. Not that many people are familiar with the concept of dry-roasting spices before using them. In fact, looking at Cacio E Pepe recipes online, very few were roasting the spices. And the ones that were, were just crushing black pepper first, which I think is wrong. I said it. I think it’s wrong. That’s what you’re doing, you’re basically wasting the flavour The very subtle and ephemerals… ephemeroos? ephemerals flavors in the wind That’s not something I’m gonna do. I’m gonna roast the whole peppercorn, and I’m gonna wait until the very end to bash them. There is a toasted, slightly caramelised flavour to them. Woah, and the crunch is just so much more enjoyable. Okay, so these are the pasta I used in the first episode. They are called Pici. You can also use Tonnarelli, but I’m not sure I’m really helping, cause- Those are not widely available pasta So, I wanna come up with an alternative for you. So here I’ve got two types of spaghetti: This is the deep yellow, super smooth basic commercial version. There is nothing wrong to them, but this is just a tad better. Just a bit more natural. They are also made with organic wheat, which is always better. The texture is a bit more rough. It’s not as rough as the Pici, but still- rougher texture means greater surface, and that also means more exchanges of starch between the pasta and the pasta water. Which is exactly what we need to make that sauce thick, and syrupy, and silky at the end. Okay let’s cook them, and for this I’m going to use a different technique than in previous videos. It’s gonna be a two-batch process. Uhhhh… It’s not gonna make it very efficient… It’s not failing… It is failing. [Sighs] [Lightbulb FX]
I just had an idea, I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. Honestly, if you’re hesitating between good and– Now Italian people, I want you to look away, okay? Cause it might just be a bit painful. 3…2…1… [Snipping and bouncing] Batch number one, you need to fully cook those pasta, about 100 gram of pasta, for 12 minutes. That’s exactly what’s mentioned on the package At the end of the process, you get fully cooked pasta. There’s nothing wrong with them, it’s just perfect leftovers for a weeknight. But you also get, and that’s the whole purpose of this operation: starchy water. Quite concentrated, since we use such little amount of water, and yet- -reduce it by half, and get that Super Starchy Water. Super Starchy Water. And that is going to help us so much at achieving the emulsion… The emulsion? Episode one? Did you– …in an easier way at the end. Well since I’m using the initial ingredients from the traditional recipe… I don’t think that is cheating. But I might be wrong. What do you think? Is that just thinking? Let me know in the comments. Batch number two, the only difference now is now I’m gonna cook them for 10 minutes. Because I want to slightly undercook them. [Bubbling and sizzling as water is poured over] [Scraping from chopsticks] Of course I’m using chopsticks. I’m seen many great Italian chefs using long metal cooking forks, But I think these are superior, at least in two ways. First they don’t scratch the pan. Plus, you can pinch. Right, since we got a bit of time, I suggest we chat a bit about cheese. I’m gonna use fresh Picorino cheese, Just because of the water content, and so the melting abilities are greater with fresher cheese than drier cheese, Like for example some already grated Picarino cheese. But, I’ve got something to say about Picorino cheese. Warning, Italians. Let’s just say that you live in a place where this is not super available, Or where this is a bit too pricey, Then, without a hint of shame, please go for any local but fresh sheep’s milk cheese. This is Ossau Iraty, coming from France. I’m still gonna use Picorino for the trick, but if I were at my place, I would probably just use this one. You know everything about me. You see how starchy the water is? It’s insane. As much as possible, you don’t want to add any more water to the pasta. In fact you want to cook them a bit like Risotto, if that makes sense. Ouais, ouais, ouais , since that starch is so important to get the dish creamy, let’s talk a bit more about concentration with you. I’ve been seeing on and on in Italian cookbooks that you need one litre of water to cook 100 grams of pasta. That’s a lot of water. Since I’m just barely covering my pasta with 400 mL of water, I am already at 2.5 times the starch content of the traditional one. And I’m afraid there is more. Since I’m re-using pasta water from a previous batch, I’m also doubling that concentration, Bringing it to an outrageous 5 times more starch. Okay, we’re almost there. Let’s take care of the black pepper. [Stamping and crushing] Waaaaahhhh… The smell is absolutely phenomenal. It smells like breakfast at my place. Like bread and butter and…apricot jam. Oh, it smells so good. [Piano music] [Piano music]
That’s beatiful. [Piano music] [In French]
Oh my fucking- it’s good I’d love a nap at the moment It’s not only like a light coating anymore, it’s actually like a cream. Yeah I know, it looks like I’m eating ramen just cause I’m using chopsticks. But don’t worry, it’s Cacio E Pepe. And it’s good Cacio E Pepe. So good. It’s so good. That concludes our tasting session. I think this is a better recipe than the traditional one, just because, it’s less easy to screw up, The process is more effective, And the use of black pepper simply is better within this recipe. That’s what I think, I’d love to hear what you think. I really hope you enjoy this twist on Cacio E Pepe, I really hope you enjoyed those two episodes in fact. If the first episode was about educating everybody about that dish I love so much, This one is about making it accessible, making it doable for normal people. That’s what I’ve been trying to achieve. Like, subscribe if you enjoy the channel Of course, if you’re an extreme traditionalist, then please go. I mean, you can b!tch about this in the comments, that will always make me smile. As always if you were to replicate that dish, please tag me in your lovely creation, so I can see and like them. Take care, bye bye! Salut!

100 Comments

  1. I think the reason why everyone is talking about the cheese in Cacio e Pepe and not the pepper is because pepper flavors are way harder to differenciate than cheese flavors.. you gotta learn the different flavors by using them in the same dish, for example Cacio e Pepe (hold your horses I only make it for myself). Using red pepper gives you a brighter result, and white pepper results in a deeper flavor. You can't tell the taste of pepper by looking at it, you gotta try it in a dish that is about the pepper.

  2. What about the salt in your super starchy water? If you cook pasta in salty water and then reduce the liquid remaining in the pan to concentrate it the final result will not be too salty to add to a flavorful and intense cheese like the pecorino?
    Why don’t use just a mix of water and starch with no salt to add in the pan with the boiling pasta “risotto style” to achieve the right creaminess keeping under control the salt?
    It’s 30 years that I live in Italy and of course I’ve always followed the traditional methods for cooking pasta but I’ve always experimented a lot and the amount of salt is my major issue when it comes to make pasta in a reduced amount of water that remains all in the final preparation instead of being discarded. That’s why I’m asking.

  3. I don't kniw how usefuk the double starch water is but this method is nothing new actually. Good job with the pepper imma buy that colombian goodie

  4. I've never watched your stuff before, but reading the title I was like " oh boy, this guy ain't gonna have lotsa italian friends is he? lol"
    then i read the comments it's got thumbsup from italians. this is madness! ROFL but respect. then again you did follow the recipe to its core, its just the way you prepare it is different. so i guess no one is complaining haha XD.
    ima try this too now im very curious. Thumbsup.

  5. Mix Sweet red and the actuall black pepper grains (1:2) in the boiling nuddel water (remove later ofc) , will give you a decent little taste while Slurping the sauce. Almost like heart notes delicious!

  6. I respect this effort (for many reasons) but! mostly for the fact that a frenchman "under cooked" the pasta lol

  7. Why should we be angry, you didn't change the recipe that much and yet you improved so much, you didn't add onion or garlic. Good job

  8. There's somenthing that slipped away from your thoughts.
    More doesn't mean better, soecially in Italian kitchen. 5X starch.. That's useless for the purpose of the final product: It costs more, it's harder to pull off, it's more expensive and less reliable. Also doesn't respect the tradition. Improved in which way? In the French way probably.

  9. Inspired me to make a batch at 3am after some drinking this evening… just had to make do with my humble black peppercorns this round… still awesome…

  10. YOU COULD JUST WARM UP THE A LITTLE BIT SO THEY COULD GET MORE FLEXABLE AND YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO MASAKRATE THEM (i mean pasta)

  11. What the fuck do you do … stop ruining Italian food … stop it! first study and then do it at home..so you only make mistakes

  12. the kitchen is not calculations..they are not schemes..is passion..and you cannot make dishes advising the public to a cheese totally of your choice..because we need pecorino romano and that sucks … besides .. the water must first boil then put the spaghetti .. set to ruin the Italian recipes

  13. but then you will be able to see a person who eats spaghetti .. an "Italian" recipe with chopsticks … you are terrible

  14. Italian here: works perfect, the point is to have that starch for the creamy effect and to keep the pecorino "cold" so it doesn't cook and stick, but incorporates the starch.
    I would have changed only 1 thing: added part of the pepper a bit earlier so that it is absorbed inside the pasta through the starch rich water.
    It looks 100% like a proper cacio e pepe. Maybe try the suggestions for a Gricia, so you can do the whole Carbonara/Amatriciana tree 😉

  15. As a Swiss Italian, I can tell that you could even improve the result even more, if you include the science of cheese 🧀 . Doing that all my paesani would stay totally relaxing and applause at the piazza! Ping me and I share the Cheese knowledge of my Swiss part 🙂

  16. Just subscribed, why not use flour instead previous batch pasta water? It would be more "reliable".

  17. I am Italian and I think I am talking in the name of… well, a good part of all Italians: you could even prepare Pizza with ketchup instead of tomato, we will still love you ❤

  18. Ok, I’m Italian and being completely honest, it looks better than the ones people make in Rome.
    Congrats man!

  19. I just want to say it is an INCREDIBLY French thing that you looked at one of the most hardcore Italian recipes (Italians being famously judgy about other people cooking Italian food) and went: "…I can do better." XD

  20. Ok so first off I love it. Just one question tho. What happens with the first batch of pasta that was cooked?

  21. I think that I think that I think what you think, Alex. That gave me a headache, I need to soak my noggin in a warm bowl full of cacio e pepe!

  22. I have been toasting peppercorns for as long as I can remember (got it from my Mom). Heat dry, inna skillet til they start to "pop" then put into the pepper mill (or a dish to cool if it's made of plastic) and enjoy.,

  23. it kinda sounds like alex changed his accent and his pronunciation a bit in his newer vids from the 2014-16 vids

  24. when Bourdain had this in rome it was served inside a crispy bowl made out of Parmesan reggiano…or so i heard….Next Level plz 😉

  25. Good think I am Colombian. I can find that kind of pepper here… Now, let's try to find some Ricotta cheese…

  26. Hey Alex
    Today I finally tried this dish out! Sadly I have to make a few compromises (I can’t find the right pasta, but specially crafted spaghetti with the same surface finish, the pepper i used is from Tasmania not Columbia) In respect to your recipe but ist turned out great.. besides the fact that I totally skewed up the roasting of the pepper.

  27. great video, i think you need to make the pepper comparative with both toast, if u going to toast for the recipe, and if u put hot water dont need to cut the pasta xd

  28. Cooking traditional just means, old fashioned with the ingredients wich were available at that time. Today we can get almost every ingredient we want, so cook with what you love to eat and taste!!

  29. I think you can get starchier water, when you make the pasta fresh with all the flour coated on the pasta to prevent sticking. So you don't need to make starch water. Will try it with local sheep's milk cheese!

  30. Alex! Quality content as always. I wonder: could the cutting of the pasta have made the water more starchy? Maybe if u took a smaller amount of pasta for the first batch and cut them up even smaller.. Would that increase the surface of pasta vs water and hence make it more effective?

  31. PUTAIN! (not to be confused with PUTIN) It is a well known fact that the simplest dishes are the most "difficiles".
    BUT, taking a Classic and making it your own, and EPICLY succeeding, is AWESOME! Felicitation! (Alex Rules)

  32. It's a bit wasteful cause of the two pasta boils: can't the addition of corn starch to cold water first, adding the pasta, then bringing it to a boil achieve similar results?

  33. We have crepe pans here. They're called pannkakslaggar and the proper ones are made out of cast iron, and we usually make pancakes in them. 🙂

  34. I think the recipient makes sense. I think the pasta dish can still be called cacio e pepe. Btw I also like to cook with chopsticks. I also like to eat salads (esp when it’s leafy greens) and when I eat with a fork I get a little annoyed lol.

  35. Nice! I make this pasta, but with GF spaghetti. This water is very starchy and doesn’t need reducing, but if you are watching your fat intake it means you can add a little less cheese without curbing the flavour. I always keep at least a hunk of emergency pecorino in the freezer because you never know when you want to eat this dish. I usually use Indian peppercorn as that is what I have in the house but don’t dry roast it, but will next time. My only difference is that I rub a cut clove of garlic in the the inside of the bowl / plate for that little brightness and some fresh herbs. Thank you for the inspiration!

  36. Will be making this for dinner…watched both videos and will do the second method with regular pepper (generally I don't use black pepper, so I don't want to purchase something I rarely use).

  37. I like it so much that you mention to use a fresh local sheepsmilk cheese and not Peccorino per sé, I am Dutch and we have incredible sheep and goatsmilk cheeses, but also the famous cowmilk cheese like Gouda. It is a far different taste as the original, but who cares if it tastes good, or maybe even better 😉

  38. Honestly if you're going to go through the trouble of reusing pasta water you might as well just add flour to emulsify. Seems wasteful to toss that first batch of past away.

  39. I'm not an Italian but I've always seen the starchy water as a trade-off. If you bust it, then you improve the texture on one hand while dampening the flavor on the other.

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