Monday, January 09, 2006

Baked Four Cheese And Pasta Casserole

From Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Bread crumb topping
3-4 slices white sandwich bread with crusts, torn into quarters
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Pasta and cheese
4oz Italian Fontina cheese
3oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 C grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound penne
1 Tbsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Pulse bread in food processor until coarse crumbs are formed. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in remaining topping ingredients; set aside. For the pasta: Adjust oven rack to middle and heat oven to 500. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil. Combine cheeses in large bowl; set aside. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water; stir to separate pasta. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat; whisk flour into butter until no lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in cream, increase heat to medium, and bring to boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 1 minute to ensure that flour cooks. Stir in remaining salt and pepper; cover cream mixture to keep hot and set aside. When pasta is done (slightly underdone at very center), drain about 5 seconds leaving slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses; immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and stir, scraping bottom of bowl, until cheeses are melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Transfer pasta to 13x9" baking dish, then sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

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