Friday, April 7, 2017

Tagliolini Gratinati al Prosciutto con Besciamella

This sensational recipe from Locanda di Cipriani, on the tiny island of Torcello at the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon, is one of my absolute favourite pastas.  
According to Harry's Bar Cookbook by Arrigo Cipriani, in which a version of this recipe appears, Cipriani says that this dish is "one of the few combinations of French and Italian cuisines on our menu — the pasta and the ham are Italian; the sauce and the cooking method are French." It has become a classic of Locanda di Cipriani because everybody adores it, which is no great surprise. It is so easy to make and entirely delicious — the ultimate culinary combination.

100 grams of thick cut Prosciutto di Parma, about 2 slices

Julienned and sautéed for one minute

The sautéed prosciutto is added to the cooked tagliolini and tossed well with some butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 

The pasta is then placed in an oven proof casserole dish 

Topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a cup of Béchamel sauce, a little more cheese and dotted with butter, the pasta is set under a broiler for 6-8 minutes until lightly golden and bubbly

The dish infuses the kitchen with the most mouth watering and intoxicatingly delicious aroma

Tagliolini Gratinati al Prosciutto con Besciamella
Serves 2 

3 tbsp butter

100 g prosciutto di Parma, thick cut, cut into julienne strips
1/2 lb dried tagliolini or fettucine egg pasta
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
salt and white pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce: 

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup whole milk
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, make a bechamel sauce by melting the butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes. 
Heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat the broiler. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook it for a minute, stirring constantly. Cook the pasta in the boiling water untill al dente, then drain well in a colander. Put it in the pan with the prosciutto and toss well. Add another tablespoon of the butter, sprinkle with half the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and toss well to combine. 

Spread the pasta evenly in a copper grating dish or casserole. Spoon the béchamel sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano. Cut the remaining butter in to bits and scatter over the top. Broil as close as possible to the heat source or 475°F until golden and bubbly, about 6-8 minutes, and serve immediately.