The Wooden Spoon: Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce

    (Always read the recipe twice, assemble, and prepare your ingredients before you begin to cook)

1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup and 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 quart milk
Pinch of nutmeg
Sea salt and white pepper to taste
1 cup grated fontina cheese, divided
½ lb. thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned or thinly sliced
16 oz. box or bag of Rigatoni pasta (any brand)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Béchamel sauce:

· In a 2 qt. saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat
· Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes
· Always stirring, gradually add the milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy
· Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take approximately 10 minutes
· Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, ½ cup fontina cheese, the prosciutto, and season with the salt and pepper
· Set aside

      Pasta:

· In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water
· Add the rigatoni and cook for about 5 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard
· Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish/pan either with butter or cooking spray
· Drain the pasta in a colander and return the pasta to the pot and pour in the béchamel sauce
· Using a wooden spoon, mix well until all the pasta is coated with the sauce.
· Carefully, pour the pasta and cream sauce mixture into the greased 13×9 inch baking dish
· Smooth out the top with a wooden spoon and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup fontina cheese
· Dot the top with the diced butter
· Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until bubbling and the top is golden brown.
· Serves 6 to 8 people
· Suggestion: Serve with a salad and garlic bread

        Notes:
      • tsp. means a teaspoon and tbsp. means tablespoon – always use a measuring spoon not a piece of silverware
      • Prosciutto is an Italian cured ham that can be purchased at a deli counter. It does come prepackaged in supermarkets and I’m sure it’s fine, but if at all possible, have it freshly sliced. Price around as it is expensive, and I found that BJ’s Wholesale Club’s deli counter has the best price in the area.

If you’d like to be a guest contributor to The Jefferson Chronicle’s Wooden Spoon, please email your recipe clearly noting all ingredients, measurements, and understandable directions to carol.punturieri@thejeffersonchronicle.com and type “The Wooden Spoon” in the Subject line. Be sure to include your name, address, and a telephone number in the event we need to clarify any information.

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Carol was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and moved to Jefferson Township with her husband in 1976. She initially joined the Garden Club of Milton, eventually serving as President. She was a co-founder of the ABC Mothers Group, active in the local PTAs, Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts. She worked for AIM Newspapers as a reporter and eventually became its Editor. Currently, she is President of the Jefferson Arts Committee and the Recreation Program Coordinator in the Jefferson Township Recreation Department.

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