Cacio e pepe is one of the simplest, but most satisfying meals. Meaning literally “cheese and pepper” in Italian, we’ve taken the backbones of this humble Italian pasta and applied the winning combination of fruity cracked peppercorns and salty aged cheese to good ol’ popcorn. While you can use just parmesan cheese in this recipe, the sharp bite of pecorino is what really makes this taste like the original. Also, we strongly encourage you to use freshly ground peppercorns for this recipe – it’s well-worth the effort (and truly doesn’t take that much time).
In a large, tall pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the olive oil with a few corn kernels. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the kernels pop. Add the remaining corn kernels, cover and cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping slows to a few seconds between pops. Remove from the heat.
Toss the popcorn with the pepper, both cheeses and season with salt. Pour the melted butter over the popcorn and gently toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and discard any un-popped kernels. Garnish with more finely grated pecorino, cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt; serve.