Life-Changing Cacio e Pepe Butter

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This Cacio e Pepe butter situation is seriously life-changing. During the development of the Cacio e Pepe recipe, I started using the leftover Cacio e Pepper butter in my weeknight meals. I tossed it with some roasted asparagus for the most incredible side dish, whisked it with some lemon juice and olive oil for a simple salad dressing, and spread it on some toast topped with some soft scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast. I even used it to develop my healthier version of Cacio e Pepe (made with roasted cauliflower in place of carb-y noods).

This recipe can be made ahead, which makes it a great dinner party trick. With a few spoonfuls of the Cacio e Pepe butter, transform some simple roasted vegetables into an impressive side dish your guests will think you labored over. Or use it as a spread for some warm, toasted bread. The possibilities are endless.


Ingredients: 
4 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper
1 clove of garlic, peeled
6 ounces of cheese, cut into 2-inch chunks (either Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, or some combo of both)**
Juice from 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons


Method:
1. In a large pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add pepper, swirling in the pan until it is nice and fragrant—about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Add garlic and blitz in food processor until blended (*if you don’t have a food processor, follow the directions referenced below). Add in cheese, and process until finely grated. Add in cooled lemon juice and butter-black pepper mixture, and process until it comes together, about 1-2 minutes.
3. Toss with warmed vegetables or pasta. If not using immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to a week (or the freezer for even longer), thawing before using.

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Notes:

· *Don’t have a food processor? That is okay. Grate the cheese, mince the garlic, and pour everything into a bowl and mash it together with a wooden spoon or potato masher until it comes together.
· **There are very few ingredients in this recipe, so splurge on some nice Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (or better yet both!)—do not use pre-grated cheese, which will not give you the creamy texture you need for this recipe.
· Toasting the ground black pepper in some sort fat (butter, olive oil, pork fat) brings out the flavor of the black pepper – don’t skip this step. This is also the point at which you can add Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes to give the dish some heat, if that is your thing.

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