Cacio e Pepe di Morgana
(with Pancetta & Spinach)
about 40 min
About this Recipe
I pray that Italians Mad at Food (@ItalianComments) on Twitter never see any of my pasta recipes. They would tear me apart for sure!!! The nonnas would break down my door!
I am Italian, for certain, but I am Canadian Italian – and in the cooking, there is a difference! I have taken a few liberties with this traditional Italian dish (as Canadians are want to do…) but I think you will agree that the marriage of cheese and bacon in this dish is fab!!
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 cup Parmesan or Asiago, finely grated
- 1 cup Pecorino cheese, finely grated
- 30 – 40 crack black pepper
- 2 cups reserved pasta water
- 6 pieces pancetta (or bacon), in crisp bits
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
Top this cheesy wonder with a little more fresh grated Parmesan and a few cracks of pepper and… Yum! Cheesy heaven!
Step by Step Instructions
Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Cut the pancetta (or bacon) into small chunks and crispify in a large pan over medium high heat (don’t burn it – just sauté it until it’s crisp, but still succulent). I actually use a wok to prepare this dish because we are going to add the pasta in later steps and toss it in the pan- so you do need a large pan!
Add the onions to bacon when the bacon is about half cooked.
While the bacon is cooking, grate the cheese and crack the pepper – then set aside.
Cook pasta until it is about a minute off al dente. Don’t forget to reserve two cups of pasta water before straining the pasta.
When bacon is crisp, remove it, along with the onions from pan and set on paper towel to drain. Pour excess fat from pan, and using the same pan, melt 2 tbsp butter over medium heat and stir in the cracked pepper – sauté for a minute or two.
When the pasta is 1 minute off al dente reserve 2 cups of pasta water and drain the pasta. Add 1 ½ cups of reserved pasta water to the pan with the butter and pepper and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat to medium low, add the pasta and remaining butter, and toss to coat the pasta. Add half the cheese and continue tossing constantly as the cheese melts.
Add the bacon, onions, and the rest of the cheese, and continue tossing over low heat while you add the spinach. You can turn the heat off after you add the spinach, as we just want it to wilt.
The cheese should melt to a creamy consistency that just coats the pasta – if it’s dry and sticky, add a splash more pasta water and continue tossing the pasta until the cheese is smooth and creamy. Once the sauce has reached a creamy consistency, serve pasta into shallow bowls, sprinkle with a little Parmesan and a few more cracks of pepper and serve the fabulously cheesy and delicious dinner that you just prepared pipping hot!