Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper (Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe)

Adapted very loosely from Mario Batali and Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a first course

  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 lb dried spaghetti
  • 2 T butter
  • 4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely ground pepper
  • salt (optional)

Cook spaghetti in well salted water to your al dente taste in a large, wide-bottomed pot. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Dry out your pot, then heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add drained spaghetti and 1 cup of reserved pasta water. Be sure to move back to avoid splattering. Add butter, 3 ounces of cheese and ground pepper. Toss with tongs. Taste, adding more pasta water, cheese or pepper to taste. Serve immediately, sprinkling with reserved cheese and an extra grind of black pepper.

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