Cacio e Pepe, translated as “cheese and pepper,” is a simple pasta dish that is a favorite specialty of Rome. It is one of my favorite dishes, as it has that “comfort food” quality that I love so much. I do like to jazz it up a little by usually adding some bacon, which adds just that extra bit of goodness. In playing around in the kitchen the other day, I decided to add some Tabasco Chipotle sauce to the pasta itself, and the results were awesome!
My daughter, Lauren, has always loved making her own pasta from scratch. Generally speaking, it’s exceedingly easy to make your own pasta, and the flavor and texture is significantly better than store-bought dried pasta. Yes, it’s a little bit messy, but the flavor is worth it.
Spice it up!
Adding flavorings to pasta is super easy, you just have to take care to keep a roughly equivalent ratio of liquid to flour. If adding a pre-made sauce, you also have to look at the sodium content so you don’t over salt it. I like Tabasco Chipotle sauce, as it has quite a bit of flavor in addition to some heat. Chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) just have a great depth of flavor to me, and I’ve always loved using them in my dishes.
Everything is Better with Bacon!
This pasta recipe is kind of a mixup between a “carbonara” and a traditional Cacio e Pepe. The bacon is more traditionally found in Spaghetti Carbonara, and I love that dish, so why not add some to this! A little bit of bacon will also give your pasta to more of a “main course” feel. For this dish, I used Smithfield Brand Thick Cut Bacon. Of course, if you’d prefer not to have it, just leave it out.
Anyway, here’s the recipe! If you don’t feel like making pasta from scratch, just skip down a few steps to make Cacio e Pepe with dried pasta. Traditionally, it is made with bucatini (a thin, hollow noodle) but I’ve seen it many times made with regular spaghetti. It’s a great dish, and so easy. Enjoy!