I feel like both Cousin M and Butcher have featured versions of this recipe, but I didn’t find it in my site-search. That said, I offer it today because cacio e pepe is a classic for a reason; simple, easy, and delicious, it is grownup mac ‘n cheese.
Cook one pound of pasta in salted water to al dente. You can use whatever you have already, orrecchiette-sized or larger. Reserve some of the cooking water (1 cup or so) and drain, set aside.
Cook 3 tablespoons garlic, 1 tablespoon black pepper, and some hot pepper (to taste) in 6 tablespoons olive oil, in a big pot, until very lightly golden. Add the pasta and 2 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese*. Add in 1/2 cup of the reserved water and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the remaining water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta.
Serve topped with parsley and some freshly cracked pepper.
*Price of cheese rant. I was unwilling to spend $17.00 a pound for Pecorino Romano. So I used half the “good stuff” and half the much less expensive, more powdery version that comes in a plastic container. The “good stuff” was strong enough to flavor the entire batch.