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GeorgiaRose

REC: Baked Four Cheese Pasta

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Joined: Dec 17, 2005

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Posted to Thread #2990 at 4:26 pm on Aug 9, 2006

Baked Four-Cheese Pasta

I have made this many times and my family loves it! We are a bunch of cheese lovers. I’ve made the variation with tomatoes and basil as well. It is also very good, but I prefer the cheese only version. It doesn’t reheat well, so keep that in mind. Hope you enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6 as main course, 6 to 8 as side dish

Ingredients

Bread Crumb Topping
3 or 4 slices white sandwich bread with crusts, torn into quarters
¼-cup (1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
¼-teaspoon salt
1/8-teaspoon ground black pepper

Pasta and Cheese
4-ounces Italian Fontina cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
3-ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
½-cup (1 ounce) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼-cup (1/2 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
1-pound penne
1-tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
2-teaspoons unsalted butter
2-teaspoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
¼-teaspoon ground black pepper

Procedure
1. For the topping: Pulse bread in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses (you should have about 11/2 cups). Transfer to small bowl; stir in Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Set mixture aside.

2. For the pasta: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

3. Bring 4-quarts water to rolling boil in stockpot. 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 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper; cover cream mixture to keep hot and set aside. When pasta is very al dente (when bitten into, pasta should be opaque and slightly underdone at very center), drain about 5 seconds, leaving pasta slightly wet. Add pasta to bowl with cheeses; immediately pour cream mixture over, then cover bowl with foil or large plate and let stand 3 minutes. Uncover bowl and stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom of bowl, until cheeses are melted and mixture is thoroughly combined.

4. Transfer pasta to a baking dish, then sprinkle evenly with reserved bread crumbs, pressing down lightly. Bake until topping is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Variations:

Baked Four-Cheese Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil
Follow recipe for Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, adding one 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, to pasta along with cream mixture and stirring in ¼-cup coarsely chopped basil leaves just before transferring pasta to baking dish.

Baked Four-Cheese Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas
Follow recipe for Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Pasta, omitting salt from cream mixture and adding 4-ounces prosciutto, chopped, and 1 cup frozen peas to pasta along with cream mixture.

Cook's Illustrated. January 2003


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