Cacio e Pepe Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
This macaroni and cheese recipe is inspired by the classic Italian pasta, Cacio e Pepe. This has ground up toasted black peppercorns, lots of Parmesan mixed into a cheesy sauce that thickly coats pasta.
1 Dutch oven
1 silicon spatula
1 mortar and pestle
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 pound cavatappi or pasta of choice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 3 ounces Parmesan-Reggiano finely grated
- Kosher salt
To Toast the Peppercorns:
In a small skillet, set over medium heat, add the peppercorns and toast for about 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer them to a mortar and pestle and grind them until they’re pulverized. If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, no worries! You can transfer them to a cutting board and smash them with the bottom of a clean pan. You can also use a large chef’s knife. Set the crushed peppercorns aside.
To Make the Macaroni and Cheese:
Bring a pot or Dutch oven of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (my pasta took about 7 minutes). Reserve about a cup of pasta water. I usually scoop it out with a dry cup measure. Drain the pasta and drizzle with a teeny bit of olive oil (this will prohibit them from sticking to each other).
In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, set over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the milk and bring to a simmer; cook until it’s thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. It should coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for about 2 minutes.
Next, add the mozzarella, Parmesan-Reggiani and a few generous pinches of black pepper. If needed, turn the heat to medium-low to completely melt the cheese. Give it a taste and add salt to taste (I ended up adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt but this will really depend on the salt content in the cheeses you’re using).
Stir in the pasta and add some more black pepper if you like. Toss until evenly coated. Mix in about a 1/4 cup of pasta water. This will give it a bit of a creamier consistency. Add a bit more if you like. I ended up adding about a 1/2 cup of pasta water in total. Divide amongst bowls and top with a bit more black pepper as garnish.
Serving: 4g | Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 257mg | Potassium: 308mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1024IU | Calcium: 364mg | Iron: 1mg