Orecchiette and Cheese
Added by dynagrrl | Mon 27 Jul 2009 @ 03:37
A delicious rustic \"macaroni cheese\" that makes an amazing starter, side dish, or vegetarian main (without the pancetta). Simple to prepare and delicious to eat, the better the cheese that is used, the nicer the pasta. I always visit the cheesemonger in order to get the tastiest variety!
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
50g Parmesan cheese -- grated
50g Fontina cheese -- cubed
100g Sharp, old cheddar cheese -- cubed or grated
1 lb Orecchiette, dried
8 1/2 cm slices of pancetta
1 tomato thinly sliced
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
Cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain well and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
While the pasta is cooking, get a large measuring cup and measure in 3 cups milk. Add 1/3 cup flour and whisk together. Add to a saucepan and cook, over medium heat, for approximately 8 minutes or until thick. Stir in all cheeses and continue stirring until melted. Add pepper to taste (salt will likely not be necessary because of the parmesan cheese).
Cut the pancetta into small strips. Brown in a small skillet and drain on paper towels. Mix half of the strips into the cheese sauce and blend well. Set the remaining strips aside.
Mix the cheese/pancetta sauce with the pasta, and stir until well combined. Fill individual gratin bowls with pasta.
Mix the bread crumbs with the dried herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.
Top the pasta with a tiny bit of breadcrumb mixture. Then take thin slices of tomato and place on top of each gratin bowl (one or two will be sufficient). Top with additional breadcrumb mixture. Place each dish in the oven and bake for about ten minutes, until top is crunchy.