Pennsylvania Kitchen: Cacio e Pepe with Chef Ian Newman

Making pasta at home is … a process. It’s not that it’s particularly difficult — it’s a pretty simple egg-and-wheat-flour dough — but it is time-consuming, one of those lost arts that certainly can’t guarantee dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. But, if you can make some time, maybe on the weekend or over a holiday, it’s a project that’s truly worthy of your time, a slow food meditation that can provide a powerful reminder of how much there is to be gained by making things by hand. Of course, it’s easier to open a box and dump dried pasta into boiling water, but mixing the dough by hand teaches you patience and observation, how to feel each stage of the dough coming together, transforming a pile of ingredients into something whole with your own fingertips. Using local ingredients, like heritage Redeemer Wheat, a hard red winter wheat variety that’s been grown in Pennsylvania since the 1800’s — Chef Newman brought some beautiful, freshly-milled Redeemer Wheat from The Field’s Edge Research Farm in Lititz, PA.

After you’ve put all the effort into making pasta from scratch, the last thing you want to do is obscure its silky, chewy texture with a thick, heavy sauce. Cacio e pepe, a simple cheese and pepper sauce, thickened with the water the pasta was cooked in, is one simple preparation to make homemade pasta shine. While it requires very few ingredients (and be sure they are quality ingredients, indeed), the technique actually requires some careful precision. This is one of those dishes where it’s easy to think, “I don’t need a recipe, I can just feel it out.” But that bravado results in, more often that not, a gloppy, sticky mess and not the luxurious creaminess of a proper cacio e pepe. Luckily, we’ve got a chef here to put you on the right path: Ian Newman of Lancaster, PA. During Chef Newman’s time in the Pennsylvania Kitchen, he walked us through the processes of making pasta, and then using those noodles to make one of the finest plates of cacio e pepe we’ve had the pleasure of eating.

Check out our video to learn the technique, then head here for Chef Newman’s full recipe!