Cacio e pepe is the Roman (and, dare I say, better) answer to macaroni and cheese. It's traditionally made with pecorino Romano, a salty sheep's milk cheese, and abundant ground black pepper. Take a few measures to prevent the sauce from clumping: first, use the finest grater you have to grate the cheese so it can melt readily. Next, encourage an emulsion in the pan by swirling together the pepper, oil, and starchy pasta water until it comes together. And finally, if your pan isn't roomy enough to toss the pasta, place everything in a big bowl and toss with tongs, adding a little pasta cooking water at a time, until the sauce comes together.
Author Notes: One of my favorite pizza-dough recipes is Jim Lahey’s no-knead dough, on which this recipe is based. It’s simple, doesn’t require any equipment, and doesn’t make a big mess. (My wife disagrees about the mess; I have a talent for covering the kitchen in flour.) I make this dough at least once a week, sometimes quintupling the recipe and saving the extra balls of dough to use later or for the pizza classes I teach.
This dough is simple and foolproof, but you do need time. Not hands-on or working time, but twenty-four hours for rising and then forty-eight hours for the cold ferment. That’s seventy-two hours total, in case you don’t have a calculator.
The first twenty-four hours allows the dough to bulk ferment (or rise as one unit before being divided into individual dough portions) at room temperature; just park the dough someplace where it won’t be disturbed. The dough will release a pleasant aroma that will make your kitchen smell like a bakery.