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The Art of Flavour

 

Cacio e Pepe. Ancient Roman Pasta pairs with Sardinian Sausage.

An ancient Roman pasta recipe with a dash of Sardinian sausage meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 x Cup grated parmigiana regiano cheese

  • 2 x Cups grated pecorino romano cheese (reserve 1/2 cup for serving sprinkle)

  • 1 x Tablespoon ground black pepper (see note)

  • 300g Italian style sausage

  • Olive oil – best quality

  • 2 x Tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 x Teaspoons dried thyme leaves (This adding a touch of lemon and mint)

  • 30g x Butter, salt free

  • 100g x Oyster mushrooms

  • 100g x Button mushrooms

  • 500g x Bucatini No.6 pasta with 2L boiling water – see important note re water quantity

  • Chopped parsley and lemon zest

Preparation

This is a simple recipe with a lot of words and is based on 500g of the pasta ie serving four people. For lesser amount of pasta the ingredients will need to be adjusted.

Starting with the Sardinian side of the recipe and the Italian sausages, slice open the sausages length wise and using a spoon remove the filling.

Then, in a hot thick bottomed pan with a little olive oil, break up the sausage meat to small pieces and brown to be almost cooked, adding the tomato paste to the bottom of the hot pan to remove the tomato paste bitterness (2 minutes).

Add a touch more olive oil to the tomato paste if drying out then add the mushrooms, thyme and butter and stir gently until the mushrooms are softened, then set the pan aside.

Next grate the cheese using the smallest or second smallest openings of the grater, add the pepper, mix well and set aside.

These first two stages may be done a little in advance.

Now, add the pasta to the boiling water and while the pasta is cooking to just below al dente (8 minutes) place the cheese/pepper mix in a blender using a whisk attachment (or use a fork with cold water)

Then progressively add two tablespoons of olive oil and gently whisk to form a slightly runny paste, using a little of the pasta water if needed. (see note)

The next stage is simple but critical. First thing, just before the pasta is removed, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Then return the sausage and mushroom pan to medium hot and add the cooked pasta from the boiling water directly onto the sausages meat and the mushrooms. For best pasta flavour do not use a colander to drain, best to take the pasta directly from the pasta pot to the pan.

Now carefully, step by step, fold the cheese/pepper paste into the pasta, adding a little of the measured pasta water as you go if needed. The pasta should be creamy not watery. We found using tongs worked well to give the full blend of the cheese, pepper, sausage and mushrooms to the pasta.

Lemon zest to your taste and chopped parsley may be added at the finish together with the sprinkle of the grated pecorino romano cheese.

Note: For pepper lovers you might like to try white pepper. We tried this recipe with less pepper but the lovely flavour was partly lost.

Important: It is essential that the water for the pasta be exactly 2L so that the reserved pasta water to be removed just before the pasta has finished cooking gives maximum starch content (meaning flavour) to the cooked pasta and the dish.

Comments: Unfortunately this recipe will not work for everyone on a No Salt diet. However, for the Salt Reduced team the salt in the cheese and the pork sausage will mean no further salt need be added, including salt in the boiling water. We will brace ourselves for the comments