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Joe Flamm—"Top Chef" winner, "Top Chef: Amateurs" guest judge and owner of the Italian-Croatian restaurant Rose Mary in Chicago—shares his recipe for homemade cavatelli that he turns into a creamy bowl of cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta. Making the cavatelli is a fun anytime project, with or without kids. Here's another idea: try it as a couples cooking adventure for Valentine's Day or an at-home date night!
For the cheese sauce, in a saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat. Reduce by about one-fourth without letting the cream scorch or boil, about 10 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cheese, then blend until smooth using an immersion or countertop blender and set aside.
For the pasta, dump the flour on a work surface and form a well in the center. Add 1 cup room temperature water, then begin to mix the flour and water gradually with a fork to form a sticky dough. Fold in the rest of the flour using a bench scraper, then use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. Roll the ball of dough a few times, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest for 10 minutes.
Remove dough and cut into quarters. Work with 1 ball of dough at a time and leave the remaining quarters covered to keep them from drying out. Roll the dough into a long rope, about ½ inch thick and then cut into ½-inch-wide pieces.
Working with 1 piece at a time, press onto a wooden cavatelli board to shape, then slide down the board and set onto a floured baking sheet; alternately, use the back of a fork to shape each piece of dough into cavatelli. Repeat with the remaining dough.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook until they float, 2 to 3 minutes.
In a saute pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and black peppercorns and cook until fragrant. Remove from heat, add ¼ cup pasta cooking water, then add the cavatelli. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens. Add 1 cup of the cheese sauce and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the butter and season to taste. Serve topped with more black pepper and drizzles of olive oil.