One is tempted to add more cheese, butter, and oil to this recipe. Resist this impulse. There should be just enough butter and oil to coat the pasta like a salad dressing, and just enough cheese to season it. If you add too much, the pasta will get oily and the cheese will make it loathsomely heavy. When done right, it’s an elegant dish with compact flavor.—Amanda Hesser
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 pound DeCecco brand linguini fini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon very coarse, freshly ground black pepper
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Sprinkle in enough sea salt so that it tastes seasoned. Meanwhile, mix the cheeses together in a small bowl. When the water boils, add the linguini and cook it for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Near the end of cooking, scoop out about 1/2 cup of cooking water and reserve.
2. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Drop in the butter, oil and 1/2 tablespoon pepper and stir with tongs or a large fork, lifting and folding the pasta together. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Cook for a minute, stirring to emulsify the sauce. Test a noodle to see if it’s done. It should still be a bit firm in the center, though not as stiff as licorice. Remove from the heat and sprinkle half the cheese over the pasta. Blend once more, then divide the pasta among four warm bowls. Pass the rest of the cheese and pepper at the table.
Recipe © 2003 Amanda Hesser. All rights reserved.