Pici Cacio e Pepe

Visit our blog to read more about The Short History of Cacio e Pepe. It’s an ancient dish dating back to the Roman Empire, when peppercorns were commonly used as an ingredient in their own right (opposed to a seasoning). It was a humble, regional Italian dish most commonly cooked by sheep herders in the Apennine Mountains, before an unexpected string of events thrust it onto the global stage in 2012 making Cacio e Pepe one of the ‘trendiest’ pasta dishes in Rome, New York, London.

Pici Cacio e Pepe is a simple dish to make at home – there’s no need for a pasta machine and the rustic, worm-shaped strings of pasta are fun to roll out with children. There are only really three ingredients in Cacio e Pepe: pasta, cheese and peppercorns. So don’t scrimp when it comes to these few components. Rooted Spice’s Tellicherry Peppercorns is a brilliantly spicy and flavoursome choice. If you’ve been enjoying it in your peppermill then I couldn’t encourage you more to try cracking a few tablespoons in a pestle and mortar, and trying out this butter sauce, you’ll be blown away by the flavour.


For the pici
400g white bread flour
200ml water
1 tablespoon olive oil
fine sea salt, a pinch
NOTE: if you have neither the time nor the inclination to hand-roll pici, then substitute for 400g spaghetti, shop bought pici or pasta.
For the sauce
150g unsalted butter
120g pecorino romano (or parmesan), grated as finely as possible
4 tablespoons Tellicherry Black Peppercorns, cracked
¼ lemon, juiced


Weigh out the flour into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and tip the water in. (Note, you can use a measuring jug, but I find it easiest to weigh the water – 200ml is equal to 200g). Add the olive oil, salt and mix until you have a ball of dough. Tip the pasta dough out of the mixing bowl and knead until smooth – or keep it in the bowl and use a dough hook to achieve the same result.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 2cm thick. Cover with a sheet of clingfilm and rest it in the fridge or a pantry for ½ hour. Cut the dough into 15g strips (use a scale to keep things consistent) and then roll them into thick, round worms – about the same thickness as a pencil.

You want to make the pici on the same day you’re planning to cook them. To store them, lay the pici on a floured tray, making sure they’re not touching and cover with a damp tea towel. When it comes to cook the pici, use the largest saucepan you have to avoid overcrowding. Fill it 2/3 with boiling water – drop in the pici and cook for 5-6 minutes while you cook the sauce.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pan on a neighbouring hob. Add the cracked black pepper to the pan, allowing it to infuse throughout the butter. Only once the pasta is almost ready (and the water is at peak-starchiness), scoop out a whole mug of water, and add roughly half of it to the butter sauce. Turn down the heat and swish the peppery butter and pici water in the pan, encouraging it to emulsify. If needed, add a splash more of pici water. The sauce shouldn’t look split, but a single colour with a delicious sheen.

Once the pici is cooked, then use tongs to whip it out of the the pan of pasta water and straight into the neighbouring pan of buttery sauce. Don’t worry about straining – the extra water clinging to the pici here is actively encouraged. Tip the Parmesan or Pecorino over the pici pasta. Don’t stir it at this point, but just agitate the pan – and only once the cheese has melted stir the pan so that each strand of pasta is glistening with the sauce. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve immediately.

spices used

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