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Dan Pashman's recipe for Cacio E Pepe E Chili Crisp, a mix of dairy and smoky spice

Dan Pashman worked on this recipe with James Park, a recipe developer and author of the book “Chili Crisp: 50+ Recipes to Satisfy Your Spicy, Crunchy, Garlicky Cravings.” Chili crisp — a condiment you can buy in jars or make yourself — come in many varieties, but Park says they all include three basic components that can be combined in infinite ways: oil, chili and flavoring.

In this dish, from Pashman's book “Anything's Pastable,” chili crisp pairs beautifully with dairy. It's the perfect addition to cacio e pepe because it amplifies and deepens the smoky spice from the pepper and contrasts perfectly with the Pecorino.

CACIO E PEPE E CHILI CRISP

Serves: 2-4

Time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns (see tip)

2 teaspoons cracked Sichuan peppercorns (optional, see note)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, plus more for serving

1 pound mafalde pasta (a.k.a. mafaldine or riccia; or use bucatini, pici or cascatelli)

1 cup (4 ounces) finely grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving

DIRECTIONS

1. Bring 4 quarts of water and the salt to a boil in a large pot.

2. Toast the black and Sichuan peppercorns, if using, in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl, reserving the skillet.

3. Melt the butter in the reserved skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 teaspoons of the pepper mixture and cook, stirring, until the butter just begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the chili crisp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili flakes become fragrant and sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes; remove the pan from the heat. (At this point the sauce can sit, covered, for up to 2 hours.)

4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than the low end of the package instructions. Meanwhile, place the Pecorino in a large heatproof bowl and set aside. A few minutes before the pasta is done, transfer 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water to the bowl with the Pecorino and whisk until no lumps remain.

5. Use tongs to transfer the pasta directly to the skillet and place it over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until any water has evaporated and the pasta is evenly coated with the chili mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Immediately transfer the pasta to the bowl with the cheese mixture, scraping out the skillet. Add 1/4 cup of the pasta water and use the tongs to rapidly toss everything together until the pasta is well coated and the cheese is dissolved. (There should be extra sauce pooling in the bowl at first, but it should all cling to the pasta after 1 to 2 minutes of stirring. If the sauce looks too thick after 1 minute, add more pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until smooth and creamy.)

7. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish or individual bowls, sprinkle with more Pecorino and the remaining pepper mixture, and serve with more chili crisp, if desired.

TIP: Use a mortar and pestle, rolling pin, or the bottom of a pot or pan to crack whole black peppercorns (and Sichuan peppercorns, if using) into chunks. You want them coarser than if you had ground them in a pepper mill or spice grinder.

NOTE: You don’t have to use the Sichuan peppercorns to get great results, but they do add a depth to the heat that I think takes this dish to the next level.

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From Dan Pashman's “Anything's Pastable” by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2024.