Sick of everyone else’s lockdown pasta looking better than yours? It’s time to step away from the easy gnocchi recipe you found on BBC Good Food and delete all your Bon Appétit tabs (although this chickpea and tomato brothy pasta is very delicious. Strongly recommend).
The main player of the pasta game has unleashed a recipe for a beige meal so flavourful it’s been a Time Out hype dish. Yes, Padella has revealed the secret to its iconic pici cacio e pepe. You can read the full recipe below, but here are some tips our writer Bobby Palmer found out when he chatted to chef-owner Tim Siadatan about how to make the big dog of Italian noodle bowls:
‘The key to any unctuous sauce is pasta water. If you combined the cooked pici, cheese and butter without it, it would split and be nasty. The water helps the fat melt properly. Traditional cacio e pepe uses only pecorino, but we use a Neal’s Yard Dairy aged parmesan too. They use it for cheese plates and think we’re mad for putting it in a sauce.’
Pici cacio e pepe
For the pici
375g white bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch fine sea salt
Add the flour to a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix together the water, olive oil and salt and pour into the well. Start incorporating the flour into the water-olive oil-salt mixture until a dough starts to form. Once it forms, take the dough out, transfer to a clean table and start kneading it until it becomes smooth. With a rolling pin, shape it into a rectangle about 2cm thick, wrap in cling film and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes somewhere cool.
To make the pici, cut the dough into 15g strips (weigh one to check and use as a guide) and keep covered with a damp tea towel. On a dry, clean work surface – stainless steel or wood, you don’t want something too smooth as a little bit of friction is important (a large wooden chopping board would do) – start rolling the strip outwards, with both palms of your hands, applying pressure evenly and pushing out, until you have a noodle the same thickness as a biro. Basically, you’re making wriggly worms. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Cook straight away or if making in advance, store lengthways on a heavily floured tray (they stick together) covered with cling film and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.
For the cacio e pepe
1 batch of pici dough
160g unsalted butter
100g parmesan, finely grated
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
In a large saucepan, bring the water up to the boil and season with salt to resemble milt sea water. Drop the pici in water and cook for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, add the butter, black pepper, lemon juice and a splash of pici water to a saucepan on a medium heat and then turn down to a low heat until they emulsify (melt into each other).
When the pici is cooked, remove it from the water and add to the saucepan with the butter and pepper. Keep the pasta water. Add the parmesan – but do not stir. Leave the parmesan to sit and melt from the residual heat of the pan – this prevents it from becoming chewy little cheesy balls. Once the parmesan has melted, stir the pici and sauce together to incorporate. Season with sea salt and serve immediately.
Too lazy to cook? Here are the top London restaurants now doing delivery.