Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pasta with Ham and Mornay

Ever have leftover baked ham? This is a fantastic dish--fast, tasty, and mostly composed of ingredients you should have on hand. The nutmeg is a fantastic touch, but I would also consider playing around with a little white wine. Another direction would be to try mustard.

Pasta with Ham and Mornay Sauce

Serves 2

kosher salt
1 handful of spaghetti or fettuccine pasta
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
2 Cups hot milk
1-2 Cups cubed ham, cooked
1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 Cup freshly grated Gruyere cheese
kosher salt
pinch white pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Bring a big pot of water with plenty of salt to a boil for the pasta. Put in the pasta around the same time you start the sauce. Keep checking the pasta as you make the sauce. Just before the pasta gets to al dente, drain it (but DON'T RINSE) and set it aside.

In a medium saucier or sauté pan melt butter on medium heat. As it begins to bubble, add the garlic. As the bubbling begins to subside and just as butter begins to change color, sprinkle on flour and whisk continuously to form a roux.

After about 2-3 minutes, but before the roux becomes too dark, slowly add the warm milk, still whisking constantly. (Hint, to make your hot milk, just microwave it in a pyrex measuring cup.) Once all the milk is incorporated, add ham cubes and bring back to simmer.

Once the sauce is simmering, take it off the heat and add the cheeses. Whisk continuously as the cheese melts. Once the cheese is melted, put back on medium heat and add salt, white pepper, and nutmeg to taste.

Add the almost-cooked pasta to the pan and stir to coat pasta thoroughly. Bring to a simmer and heat until the pasta is finished cooking. Serve.

Optional garnish--freshly cooked bacon bits sprinkled on top.


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