This is the best version of Cacio e Pepe I have made so far, although in Rome, where the dish originates, we found that they used tonnarelli, a thick spaghetti, instead of regular spaghetti. I would recommend the Spaghetti alla Chitarra pasta made by either GiGi or La Molisana. I use it as a substitute for the tonnarelli which, I have since discovered is the Roman version of alla Chitarra! You could also use di Gragnano brand spaghetti or other better quality brands. We enjoyed a great version at Ristorante Maccheroni in Rome, if you happen to be going to Rome!
6 oz. pasta
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed, divided
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper (or to taste)
¾ cup finely grated Grana Padano cheese
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Stagionato cheese or Pecorino Romano
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook, stirring occasionally, until about 2 minutes before tender. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain pasta.
Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pepper & cook, swirling pan, until toasted, about 1 minute.
Add ½ cup reserved pasta water to skillet & bring to a simmer. Add pasta & remaining butter. Reduce heat to low & add Grana Padano, stirring & tossing with tongs until melted. Remove pan from heat; add Pecorino, stirring & tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta & pasta is al dente. Add more pasta cooking water if sauce seems dry.
Transfer to a large warm serving bowl. Serve immediately.
To find Pecorino Stagionato cheese, please go to My Source List.