This delicious risotto cacio e pepe is a take on the classic Roman pasta dish cacio e pepe.
The original recipe is cacio e pepe pasta, usually tonnarelli, which is a longer and thicker spaghetti look-a-like made with eggs. In America, cacio e pepe is widely adored as a technique for spaghetti, angel hair, and linguine as well.
Cacio e pepe, which in Italian literally means cheese and pepper, is a four-ingredient wonder, the result of combining best-quality pecorino Romano cheese and no cream required.
Cacio e pepe has seen the rise of successful spin-offs, namely in the form of pizza or risotto. After the 2012 earthquakes that devastated the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, chef Massimo Bottura wanted to utilize the nearly 1,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano that were damaged in the disaster. He devised an ingenious technique for risotto. First, he simmers the cheese in water, then refrigerates the broth to separate it into three distinct layers: protein solids on the bottom, a thick broth in the middle, and a Parmigiano-Reggiano cream on top. He slowly stirs the broth into the risotto, just like one would chicken stock, and adds the cream at the end, giving the risotto a luxurious texture.
Based on Chef Bottura’s technique I developed my own version of Risotto Cacio e Pepe using leftover or ending pieces of cheeses trying to avoid any waste in our kitchens, so I use rinds from Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano or Pecorino cheese.
For the Parmigiano broth:
- 2 lb. Parmigiano-Reggiano/Grana Padano/Pecorino rinds or leftover/ending pieces.
- 2 lt Water
For the risotto:
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ red onion, minced
- ½ cup of Pecorino Romano, grated
- 2 cups Carnaroli rice (Vialone Nano or Baldo are good too)
- ½ tbs of freshly cracked black pepper
- Make the Cheese broth: In a pot over medium-low heat, combine the cheese and 2 lt water. When the cheese becomes stringy, remove from heat. Strain the broth, discarding remaining solids.
- Make the risotto: In a wide saucepan over medium heat, heat the cheese broth; set aside and keep warm.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add EVOO. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until soft, 3 minutes. Add the rice; cook 2 minutes (tostatura aka to toast it).
Add the reserved broth ½ cup at a time, cooking until each addition is absorbed before adding more. Cook, stirring often, until rice is tender and creamy, about 20–22 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano and cracked pepper.
- Plate it and top with more Pecorino on top.