In Giada's Everyday Italian cookbook, she highlights a Bechamel sauce and then uses it in her Baked Rigatoni recipe. I guess I didn't realize what the sauce really was because for some reason because before reading the recipe for the sauce, I had been intimidated to make it - it sounded too fancy. However, Giada's recipe for Bechamel is practically the same sauce I use for my homemade mac n cheese recipe (I don't add nutmeg to my sauce though). It's the prosciutto that makes this a fancy mac n cheese, in my opinion. So really, the sauce was very easy - and it can be made and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using it (even better!). I halved the sauce recipe and made about 3/4 lb pasta for the two of us (main course) and for leftovers.
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk, warmed (I used skim and it turned out perfect)
- Pinch fresh nutmeg
- Sea salt and white pepper
- 1 cup grated fontina
- 1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned
- 1 pound dry rigatoni
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I added some on top before baking but the original recipe doesn't call for it)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.Bechamel sauce: In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Always stirring, gradually add the milk and constantly whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon - do not let the sauce boil. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, 1/2 cup fontina, prosciutto and season with salt and white pepper. Set aside.
In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add the rigatoni and cook 8 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander. Return pasta to the pot and pour in bechamel sauce. Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.
Into a greased 13 by 9-inch baking dish, pour the pasta with cream sauce. Smooth out top and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup fontina. Dot the top with diced butter and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.
Prep time: 20 minutes (including cook time of Bechamel sauce)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6 side dish servings