Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Want a high profile (but easy) alternative to mac&cheese?

Then take a look at this recipe form iGourmet: it's delicious and it's perfect for friends coming to your place, because it freezes very well. Just prepare it in advance and surprise your guests with notes of flavor that their mac&cheese will never have!

Farfalle with Creamy Asiago DOP Sauce & Speck Alto Adige IGP

12 ounces uncooked Farfalle (bowtie pasta)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 / 4 cup all purpose flour
4 cups 1% milk
1 ½ cups shredded Asiago D’Allevo DOP (approximately 4 ounces by weight)
1 ½ cups shredded Asiago Pressato DOP (approximately 4 ounces by weight)
6 ounce piece Speck Alto Adige IGP, diced (approximately 1 cup by volume)
Pepper Mill

Pasta pot, 4 quart saucepan, balloon whisk, 9 x 12 inch casserole dish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook pasta to al dente stage (see Cook’s Tips below). Drain. Return to pasta pot and set aside.

Mix cheese together in a large bowl. Divide as follows: 2 cups for sauce & 1 cup for topping.

In a 4 quart saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour. The mixture will be dry. Cook 2 minutes and add 1 cup of the milk. Whisk until smooth. Add remaining milk and whisk again until smooth. Cook until thickened, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Gradually add the first 2 cups cheese ½ cup at a time, whisking until smooth. Season with a few turns of fresh black pepper. Stir in diced Speck Alto Adige IGP.

Add Asiago DOP cheese and Speck Alto Adige IGP sauce to pasta. Mix well. Place in casserole dish. Top with remaining 1 cup Asiago Pressato DOP.

Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until casserole is golden brown and bubbly.

Cook’s Tips:
Remember to cook pasta in at least 4-6 quarts of water. Cooking pasta in too small a pot or too little water will result in sticky, gummy pasta. Using a larger pot than you think you will need is a good idea.

Variation: Do not bake the pasta if you like a moister pasta dish.

Shop iGourmet for the best ingredients:

Benedetto Cavalieri Pasta - Farfalle link
Benedetto Cavalieri has been making this pasta in Lecce in the region of Puglia using the same traditional method since 1918. In Benedetto Cavalieri's “delicate method,” water and durum wheat are kneaded together and processed slowly and gently. To form the pasta into a variety of traditional shapes, the dough is extruded through antique rough bronze dies and dried gradually at room temperature. The result of this dedication to tradition and attention to detail is a pasta with the distinct fragrance and flavor of wheat and a satisfying chew that is typical of high-quality pasta made the authentic, old-fashioned, artisanal way. Sauce this special pasta sparingly so you can taste the difference between it and the pasta you buy at the supermarket.

This farfalle ("butterfly" or "bow-tie" pasta) is perfect for serving with chunky tomato and boar ragus, creamy tuna sauces, or tossed in a zesty vinaigrette for pasta salad.

Asiago d'Allevo - Pound Cut link
Northwest of Venice, tucked beneath the Dolomite Mountains, artisan cheesemakers produce Asiago using traditional methods: no computer-operated machinery or temperature-controlled rooms, just cows and grass, men and women, and an abundance of Asiago. A light beige cheese peppered with small holes, Asiago d'Allevo has a slightly fruity appeal and an engaging aroma. Aged for up to five months, it is firm enough to shave or shred. It's often used for cooking and in salads, but also makes a tasty cracker cheese.

Asiago Pressato link
Produced in the Po Valley near Treviso, Asiago Pressato is a milder, sweeter Asiago with a springy, pale interior. It is classified as an Italian DOC (Denominiazione di Origine Controllata) cheese, meaning that it is protected by governmental standards regarding the cheese's origin and techniques. Made from pasteurized whole milk and aged for 20 to 40 days, this young cheese has a full, creamy flavor. We suggest enjoying Pressato with crusty Italian bread and a glass of Pinot Grigio!

Speck Alto Adige link
Speck is a type of bacon from the South Tyrol region of Italy. Made by Recla, a well respected producer since 1919, this meat is rubbed with a mix of spices that is a well kept family secret. Basically it is a mix of rock salt, sea salt, pickling salt, pepper, juniper berries, various herbs and a hint of allspice. Two weeks of dry curing is the first stage in preserving the meat. The speck is then lightly cold-smoked over beechwood chip, producing its signature flavor. The individual pieces of speck are then stacked carefully for maturing in aging cellars, where the product loses about 40% of its weight in the slow drying process. This maturing is important for the bacon to become truly tender. Unlike American bacon, this type of bacon does not require any additional cooking - simply bring it to room temperature and slice it. Serve it with or without its spicy crust.

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