Padella’s Pici Cacio e Pepe

If you can’t make it to Padella this is a slight taster of how damn good they make this dish.

For the Cacio e Pepe sauce (serves 4):

✔️160g unsalted butter
✔️100g parmesan, finely grated
✔️4 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
✔️1 tsp lemon juice

For the Pici dough (Serves 4):

✔️375g white bread flour
✔️1 tbsp olive oil
✔️pinch of fine sea salt
✔️180ml water

Add the flour to a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix together the water, olive oil and salt and pour into the well. Start incorporating the flour into the water-olive oil-salt mixture until a dough starts to form. Once it forms, take the dough out, transfer to a clean table and start kneading it until it becomes smooth. With a rolling pin, shape it into a rectangle about 2cm thick, wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes somewhere cool.

To make the pici, cut the dough into 15g strips (weigh one to check and use as a guide) and keep covered with a damp tea towel. On a dry, clean work surface – stainless steel or wood, you don’t want something too smooth as a little bit of friction is important (a large wooden chopping board would do) – start rolling the strip outwards, with both palms of your hands, applying pressure evenly and pushing out, until you have a noodle the same thickness as a biro. Basically, you’re making wriggly worms. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Cook straight away or if making in advance, store lengthways on a heavily floured tray (they stick together) covered with cling film and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.

For the sauce:

In a large saucepan, bring the water up to the boil and season with salt to resemble milt sea water. Drop the pici in water and cook for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, add the butter, black pepper, lemon juice and a splash of pici water to a saucepan on a medium heat and then turn down to a low heat until they emulsify (melt into each other). 

When the pici is cooked, remove it from the water and add to the saucepan with the butter and pepper. Keep the pasta water. Add the parmesan – but do not stir. Leave the parmesan to sit and melt from the residual heat of the pan – this prevents it from becoming chewy little cheesy balls. Once the parmesan has melted, stir the pici and sauce together to incorporate. Season with sea salt and serve immediately.

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