Monday, April 11, 2011

Cacio e Pepe and a Lesson on Cheese


I just tracked down the recipe and article about Cacio e Pepe that I tore out of Gourmet magazine eight years ago. When I originally saw it, I not only found the recipe interesting but I learned a little tip about Pecorino that I didn't know at the time...

"Pecorino, a sheep's milk cheese, is sharper than Parmigiano-Reggiano (made from cow's milk), paler in color and sometimes too salty. Most of what's available at supermarkets, especially the pre-grated stuff, is vile; one whiff is enough to turn anyone off. If that's the only Pecorino you can find, use good quality Parmigiano-Reggiano instead - it's pretty easy to get your hands on. What you'll have won't technically be cacio e pepe, but it will be delicious nonetheless."

The Cacio e Pepe recipe is delicious and I've made it here and there for all these years. What made me think of this Pecorino lesson though was Saturday night when I sat down to enjoy a delicious bowl of Pasta all'Amatriciana and my first bite was, as they said, vile. I realized instantly that it was the Pecorino grated all over the top of my pasta. I brushed it off and enjoyed every bite of the pasta. It was especially good as leftovers, with Parmigiano-Reggiano grated on top instead. So remember this if you ever make either of these recipes, or any others that call for Pecorino: if you don't like the meal, maybe the cheese is to blame.

Side note: Lately when I have pasta for leftovers such as the Pasta all'Amatriciana, I heat a little olive oil in a sauce pan and then warm the pasta up on the stove top. It might just be psychological, but I think it tastes better than when it's microwaved.


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