Recipe: Make the classic Roman cacio e pepe a little heartier with plenty of sauteed mushrooms

Serves 4

Cacio e pepe (Italian for “cheese and pepper”) is a classic Roman pasta dish in which the sauce is made from pecorino romano cheese, black pepper, and a bit of pasta water to bring it all together. In this version, we add white button and baby bella mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil, finished with butter, and seasoned with shallots and thyme to make a hearty fall meal. Keep the mushrooms large and chunky. You add them to the pan in batches, only adding more when they have cooked down enough to make sufficient space. When they have released all their liquid and it has evaporated, they will begin to brown and develop flavor. Adding the shallots at this point seems counterintuitive (they usually go into the pan first), but the long mushroom cooking time will cause the shallots to burn if they’re added earlier. Once the pasta is cooked, dip a heatproof cup into the pot to reserve some of the pasta cooking water before you drain it. Save more liquid than you think you need since the amount will vary each time you make the dish. Over medium heat, slowly stir in the cheese, adding more, along with pasta water, as it melts. This part is tricky, and you may feel at some point like you have failed. Just keep stirring, and it will eventually create a smooth, light sauce. Season with ample freshly cracked black pepper, then stir in the mushrooms, and top with more grated cheese, naturally.

1 pose olive oil
2 pounds white button and baby bella mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Chopped fresh theme
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
¾ pound short round pasta such as short rigatoni (mezze maniche)
½ cup grated pecorino romano
¼ cup grated Parmesan
cup pasta cooking water
Extra Parmesan (for sprinkling)

1. In a large flameproof casserole over high heat, heat the olive oil. Add half of the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until they have cooked down enough so that there is room for the remaining mushrooms. Add the rest of the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and begun to brown. Stir in the shallot and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook, stirring, as it melts. Keep warm.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Dip a heatproof measuring cup into the pasta and remove 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid.

3. Return the pasta to the pan and turn the heat to medium heat. Slowly stir in half the pecorino and Parmesan and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add the remaining cheese and enough of the remaining pasta water, a little at a time, to create a smooth sauce.

4. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and garnish with more Parmesan.

Karoline Boehm Goodnick

Serves 4

Cacio e pepe (Italian for “cheese and pepper”) is a classic Roman pasta dish in which the sauce is made from pecorino romano cheese, black pepper, and a bit of pasta water to bring it all together. In this version, we add white button and baby bella mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil, finished with butter, and seasoned with shallots and thyme to make a hearty fall meal. Keep the mushrooms large and chunky. You add them to the pan in batches, only adding more when they have cooked down enough to make sufficient space. When they have released all their liquid and it has evaporated, they will begin to brown and develop flavor. Adding the shallots at this point seems counterintuitive (they usually go into the pan first), but the long mushroom cooking time will cause the shallots to burn if they’re added earlier. Once the pasta is cooked, dip a heatproof cup into the pot to reserve some of the pasta cooking water before you drain it. Save more liquid than you think you need since the amount will vary each time you make the dish. Over medium heat, slowly stir in the cheese, adding more, along with pasta water, as it melts. This part is tricky, and you may feel at some point like you have failed. Just keep stirring, and it will eventually create a smooth, light sauce. Season with ample freshly cracked black pepper, then stir in the mushrooms, and top with more grated cheese, naturally.

1 pose olive oil
2 pounds white button and baby bella mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 Chopped fresh theme
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
¾ pound short round pasta such as short rigatoni (mezze maniche)
½ cup grated pecorino romano
¼ cup grated Parmesan
cup pasta cooking water
Extra Parmesan (for sprinkling)

1. In a large flameproof casserole over high heat, heat the olive oil. Add half of the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until they have cooked down enough so that there is room for the remaining mushrooms. Add the rest of the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released all their liquid and begun to brown. Stir in the shallot and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook, stirring, as it melts. Keep warm.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite. Dip a heatproof measuring cup into the pasta and remove 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid.

3. Return the pasta to the pan and turn the heat to medium heat. Slowly stir in half the pecorino and Parmesan and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Add the remaining cheese and enough of the remaining pasta water, a little at a time, to create a smooth sauce.

4. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and garnish with more Parmesan.Karoline Boehm Goodnick

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