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Drunken Cacio e Pepe

HG Cooks

Drunken Cacio e Pepe

Recipe from More is More

Enjoy a good love story? Consider this intriguing romance between classic cacio e pepe and an entire bottle of wine. As the wine reduces, it infuses the pasta with its depth of flavours for added complexity. Drunken Cacio e Pepe is from More is More, the new cookbook from New York Times bestselling author Molly Baz.

Start to Finish: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serves: 4

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  • 8 garlic cloves

  • 3 ounces Pecorino Romano and/or Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns

  • 1 (750ml) bottle full-bodied red wine, such as zinfandel or cabernet

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound spaghetti 


  • Do some prep. Put a large pot of water on the heat to boil. Salt it generously. Coarsely grind enough black peppercorns to measure a scant 2 tablespoons. The grind should be very large! If your pepper mill doesn’t make a large grind, use a mortar and pestle or resealable plastic bag and crush them with the bottom of a heavy skillet. If it’s not already, finely grate 3 ounces Pecorino Romano. Cube 6 tablespoons unsalted butter. Keep chilled in the fridge.
  • Make the base of the sauce. Crack open 1 (750 ml) bottle full-bodied red wine. In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and a glug of olive oil over medium-high heat (the olive oil raises the smoking point of the butter, allowing you to cook over medium-high heat without burning it). Add the sliced garlic and ground peppercorns, season with salt, and cook, stirring, over medium heat until the garlic is softened but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the whole bottle of wine into the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook until the liquid reduces to ¾ cup, 16 to 20 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile cook your pasta. Once the wine has been reducing for 10 minutes or so, add 1 pound spaghetti to the pot of boiling water. Give it a stir and cook until very al dente, 2 to 3 minutes less than the package directions. Scoop out a cup or so of the pasta water and drain the pasta.
  • Finish it up. Once the wine has adequately reduced, reduce the heat to low and add the cold cubed butter, a few pieces at a time. Shake the pot back and forth, while stirring, to emulsify the butter and wine into a silky homogeneous sauce. Add the drained pasta to the pot. Using a pair of tongs, coat the noodles in the sauce. And here comes the cacio: add the 3 ounces grated cheese, along with a big splash of the reserved pasta water. Continue stirring and coating the pasta with the sauce, adding more of the reserved pasta water, a splash at a time, until a loose, silky sauce is formed (you may not use all the pasta water). Give a final seasoning of salt.
  • Divide the pasta among serving bowls and eat immediately, with more grated cheese on top.