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Spaghetti with Black Pepper



12 ounces dried spaghetti

2-3 tablespoons coarsely ground Tellicherry peppercorns*

2 ounces butter

8 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. In large dutch oven, bring 2 quarts salted water to a boil. (Note: Use as little boiling water as possible; it will become a thick, starchy liquid that enhances and binds the sauce.) Once water is boiling, drop in pasta and give on initial stir after pasta is completely submerged.
  2. While pasta cooks, set a sauté pan over medium heat and add peppercorns. Toast until fragrant, then add butter. Let butter melt and bubble with pepper, adjusting flame so that butter is bubbling right when pasta hits al dente.
  3. When pasta is al dente, remove from water with tongs and drop into sauté pan. Ladle another 2 ounces pasta water into sauté pan and stir. Add cheese, stirring vigorously until a silky sauce forms between butter, starch water, and cheese. Season to taste with salt, then serve immediately.

*Tellicherry peppercorns are a must. They can be found at gourmet cooking stores and online. If you use grocery-store black pepper, there will be a noticeable decline in the punch. 

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