Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mac and Cheese Goes Italian or Pasta Al Forno

My confidence was doing well enough after the first foray into the world of Mac and Cheese to try one with an Italian spin. I put so much "Italian" into this one that the "spin" was almost dizzying!

1 lb pasta
1 bag Trader Joe's Quatro Formaggio
1/2 cube of butter
3T white flour
1 1/2C whole milk
grated nutmeg
2T truffle paste or Tartuffata
1/2C grated Parmigiano

Since this pasta is fairly heavy, start the sauce after you have boiled the water and start cooking the pasta. No matter what type of macaroni being used, cook it knowing that the sauce only takes about 10 minutes, and plan for them to be ready at the same time.

I selected torchietti because it was a heavy pasta and I wanted to keep in mind that in traditional Italian cooking, pasta is the main ingredient and the sauce is merely a condiment. 

I used the Quatro Formaggio for convenience, but this recipe doesn't  really need this product and could be good with just the Fontina and Parmigiano if you need to blend and grate your own.

Start by making the roux with the flour and butter and grate some nutmeg into it. I used about 5 long passes on the micro plane. It smells so good!

Then comes the milk until the bechamel thickens up. To this add the truffle paste, stir in, then add the cheese and over a low heat let the cheese melt while constantly stirring.

Rinse and drain the fully cooked macaroni, then stir into the cheese and place in your baking pan or casserole. I have never had a pasta al forno that wasn't overcooked and delicious.

Place the finely grated Parmigiano on top and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about half an hour or until it browns around the edges.

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