Spaghetti with Black Pepper and Pecorino (Cacio e Pepe)

Serves 6


1 pound spaghetti
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 cup finely grated Pecorino cheese


Toast peppercorns in a dry small skillet over moderately high heat, swirling skillet, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Coarsely crush peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta; return to pot.

Next, add ½ cup reserved pasta water to pasta pot. Gradually add ½ cup Pecorino cheese, tossing constantly with tongs until cheese is melted and creates a sauce; add crushed peppercorns and toss to coat pasta. If needed, gradually add a little more pasta water to thin out sauce. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese, and serve immediately.