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Smoked Ghee Cacio e Pepe

Posted by Sana Javeri Kadri on

Smoked Ghee Cacio e Pepe

Recipe by Farhan Momin, adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe for NYT Cooking.

This might be the sexiest recipe we've ever posted, and it's one where our pepper with all its complex tasting notes really, really shines. 

Making the smoked ghee might look scary, but it's about 15 minutes of work for the sultriest cooking oil you'll ever taste, and you'll be making enough to last you a couple meals. 

 I've long admired Farhan's work, and as a fellow Gujarati Muslim we think of food very similarly. This just became my new favorite weeknight recipe, and I'm so grateful to him for it! 

The recipe moves quickly, so I'd recommend reading through it once so you get the gist of things and then proceeding once you've got everything prepped and laid out!

Serves: 3 small servings or 2 "I'm hangry" servings

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sticks grass-fed unsalted butter
  • 1-2 lumps of natural charcoal
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (plus 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (plus 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • 1 heaping tbsp Aranya Pepper (I eyeballed it because grinding pepper directly into your bowl is a beautiful thing)
  • 1/2lb spaghetti (I used gluten free but if you can gluten, please do!)
  • 1/2 cup high quality chicken or veggie broth, warmed in a small saucepan

Smoked Ghee: 

  1. Heat up the charcoal in a small pan. Make sure your fan is on, or a window/door is open because carbon monoxide is no joke!
  2. Whilst it's getting hot (you want the sides to be turning ashy), melt two sticks of butter in a separate saucepan over low heat, keeping a lid handy. 
  3. If you have a katori, use that, otherwise make a small boat out of foil and keep it aside. You're going to use this to float your hot charcoal in the hot butter. It'll make sense in a minute. 
  4. Once your butter is a golden brown and bubbling vigorously (this shouldn't take more than 5-7 minutes), turn off the heat and wait for the bubbles to settle. Use tongs to place your hot charcoal into the foil boat / katori and then float it into the pan of ghee. It will smoke when you do this, but working quickly with a spoon drizzle a little butter over the charcoal inside the boat to get it even smokier and immediately put the lid over the pan. Let the butter-turned-ghee infuse with smoke for 15 minutes. 
  5. After 15 minutes, taste your ghee, if it tastes smoky and sultry and delicious, you're in business. If not, reheat the charcoal and repeat the process again, making it as smoky as you'd like. 

Pasta: 

  1. Put a pot of salted water on to boil, it should taste like seawater. In a large bowl, combine the cheeses and black pepper; mash with just enough warm broth to make a thick paste. Spread the paste evenly in a bowl.
  2. Put leftover broth to boil. 
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Once cooked to al dente, drain the pasta and add it back to the pot.
  4. Add the cheesy paste to the pot and stir vigorously to coat the pasta, adding a teaspoon of smoked ghee at a time and a bit of the hot broth to thin the sauce if necessary. The sauce should cling to the pasta and be creamy but not watery. If necessary, turn the stove on low while you stir the pasta to encourage everything to play nicely together. 
  5. Plate and dust each dish with additional cheese and a couple turns of freshly cracked pepper. Serve immediately.

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