I finally made a cacio e pepe I am proud of! I’d tried several times each with a different approach and it was always a failure (clumpy, oily, gummy, whatever). Then I found a WaPo recipe for a za’atar variation, tried it, had much better results, and stole the technique. It’s the best cacio e pepe method I have found so far, so I’m sticking to it for next time.
Pro tips from last-night-me to next-time-me:
you gotta microplane that cheese as finely as possible
pecorino grates more easily than grana padano (which I subbed for the parm
this time) or parmigiano
our cheapo IKEA stainless steel skillet was fine for boiling the pasta, but with so little water (to encourage the starchiness) it really can stick if you’re not careful
our 12″ cast iron skillet was a champ for everything else
the proportions below are scaled down by 50% from the original; that was plenty for two adults as a primo along with some roasted brussels sprouts — steamed broccoli would be a good choice next time, too
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for finishing to taste
1/2 pound (225 g) dried bucatini (or other long pasta, cooking time adjusted if necessary)
2 tablespoons (25 g) unsalted butter
1.5 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
2 ounces (60 g) Parmesan cheese, very finely grated
1/2 ounce (15 g) pecorino Romano cheese, very finely grated
In a deep, wide skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the salt. Cook the bucatini in that for 9 minutes (or per package instructions) until al dente, stirring every now and then so they don’t stick together or to the bottom of the pan, and to ensure they are submerged. Add hot water if necessary to keep the pasta just-barely covered. Drain, reserving all the cooking water. (You should have about 1 1/8 cups (265 ml) water; if not, add enough hot water until you do.)
In a large, high-sided, nonstick saute pan over high heat, cook the butter until bubbling, then stir the pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the reserved cooking water (carefully, watch for steam bursts), bring to a rapid boil and cook until silky and slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Toss in the pasta and stir vigorously into the sauce. Add the Parmesan in two batches, continuing to stir vigorously as you go and waiting until the first half has melted before adding the next. Once all the Parmesan has melted, add the pecorino, continuing to stir, until it has also melted and the sauce is smooth and silky.
Back in June I had to define all my vacation plans for the rest of the year. Despite Corona foiling our plans at a road trip into various near-by countries, we managed to explore some parts of Germany new to us. But that was only about half of my vacation contingent; in November I had to take more. We stuck around Regensburg, watching the infection numbers rise to our dismay.
After a four-hour drive down Germany’s western border with France and a hop through the Schwarzwald towards Bonndorf…im Schwarzwald, we arrived at the final Ferienwohnung destination for this trip. The arrival was not without its complications, however; TWO of the little towns off through which we were supposed to drive on the last leg of the drive were closed to through traffic, causing us to scramble and miss our predicted arrival time by an hour. Fortunately, we kept the landlady in the loop and she was accommodating. Ha. Continue reading Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 3: Schwarzwald
We were originally going to head from Freinsheim across the South of France towards its Atlantic coast, but…Covid-19 happened.
Most of our winey traveller activities in Germany have been along the Weinstraße but there are lots more spots to visit for a tipple. Like the whole Rheingau. So, with a lot of the travel demand reduced in general and all regions of Germany back to school (whether in classroom settings or otherwise), the selection of Ferienwohnungen on short notice when all the relevant regions of France hit the Risikogebiet list was surprisingly rich. We picked out a Ferienwohnung in a former nuns’ home directly on the banks of the Rhine in Lorchhausen. Continue reading Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 2: Rheingau