California Cacio e Pepe Cheese and Mac
Chef Alex Sadowski
Cacio e Pepe literally means “cheese and pepper”—two simple ingredients that combine to make this pasta dish an Italian classic. In Italy, it’s usually prepared with spaghetti or another long pasta, but Chef Alex Sadowski created a creamy mac and cheese variation with cavatappi noodles, two types of cheese, cream and milk. A generous amount of toasted ground black pepper adds authenticity.
1 qt. cream
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. granulated garlic
1 tbsp. roasted garlic
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lb. triple crème cheese, cubed
2 cups grated manchego cheese
4 lb. cavatappi noodles, cooked al dente and cooled
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup toasted coarsely ground black pepper
2 1/3 cups sourdough breadcrumbs
3 tbsp. chopped parsley
3 tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese
- For cheese sauce, heat cream, milk, granulated and roasted garlic and cayenne pepper in large saucepan until just simmering. Stir in cubed cheese, several pieces at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth.
- Remove from heat; whisk in grated manchego cheese and whisk until melted.
- For each serving, heat 8 ounces pasta in sauté pan with ¼ cup chicken stock. Stir in 10 ounces cheese sauce and 1 tablespoon toasted ground black pepper, heating until bubbly.
- Transfer pasta and sauce to oval cast iron skillet. Top with 1/3 cup breadcrumbs and place in convection oven at 500 F for 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon parsley, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 tablespoon grated manchego cheese before serving.
Photo courtesy of California Milk Advisory Board