Crispy melted cheese, satisfying bursts of black pepper here and there—yes please! This quick and easy dish is modeled after the classic Italian dish Riso al Salto, a crunchy rice cake traditionally made with leftover risotto. Carnaroli rice has the perfect texture and toothsome bite to give structure to these addictive cakes—living up to the title: “king of Italian rice.”
Cook’s note: To cook the Carnaroli rice, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add one cup of rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain and spread out on a baking sheet to cool. Store the cooked rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use throughout the week.
Recipe by Rolando Beramendi, founder of Manicaretti Italian Food Importers
In a small non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat until it is bubbling and just starting to brown. Moving quickly, sprinkle about a 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese in an even layer over the butter. Top with a generous sprinkling of coarsely ground black pepper and half of the cooked Carnaroli rice, gently spreading out the rice and pressing it into the melting cheese and pepper.
Top the rice with another 1/4 cup of grated cheese and sprinkling of black pepper. Cook, untouched, until the cheese around the edges of the pan begins to brown, about 2-3 minutes (As the rice and cheese begin to brown, you will start to hear popping and crackling sounds—don’t fret!—you are just minutes away from crispy cheesy goodness).
Using a spoon or spatula, gently tamp down the sides and top of the rice and melted cheese to form a more compressed cake. Continue to let the cake cook, turning down the heat if necessary, until the bottom of the cake is a deep golden brown, about 1-2 more minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and give it a shake to loosen the cake. Cover the pan with a plate and carefully invert the pan flipping the cake onto the plate.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Serve Carnaroli Cacio e Pepe alongside lightly dressed greens and a glass of Prosecco—salute!