Sunday, January 8, 2012

Four Cheese Pasta


Yesterday I posted a recipe for Bechamel sauce, also called white sauce. That is a milk based French sauce used as it is or as a base to other sauces. I am trying to show you how versatile this sauce is so in addition to the Cheesy Gnocchi Gratin I posted here, I will share yet another of its variations: Four Cheese Sauce served with pasta.


I usually make Four Cheese Pasta when I have left over cheese from a dinner party. You know when you end up with small chunks of all kinds of different fancy cheeses? You don't want to throw them away, but you also don't have enough  presentable pieces to put a cheese platter together..That is when this recipe comes in handy!

Four Cheese Pasta
serves 4 to 6 people

First make the Bechamel sauce:

Ingredients:

3 cups of milk
1/2 of a yellow onion
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of freshly grounded white pepper
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
salt to taste

To that sauce you will add a mix of 4 different cheeses, totaling about 1 and 1/2 cups of cheese. An example of cheeses you can use are: Gorgonzola Dolce (a mild blue cheese), Gruyere, Parmegiano Reggiano, and Fontina. If you only have 2 different cheeses, that is fine. Even one type of cheese will make the trick.

Preparation

Place milk, onion, and bay leaf in a pot and bring it to a simmer.

Meanwhile heat a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add butter and flour to the pan and stir it around until the mixture is a deep golden color. Turn down the heat to medium-low and slowly add the simmering milk (discard onion and bay leaf) into the flour and butter mixture whisking it constantly to avoid big lumps to form. You should have a smooth, creamy sauce. Season with white pepper, and nutmeg. Continue to cook it for another 5 minutes so all the flavors can combine. Finally add all the cheese and stir until it is all melted. Taste and adjust the salt (only add the salt at the very end because the cheeses already have a lot of salt).

Cook your favorite pasta in boiling salted water until al dente, drain it, and add it to the cheese sauce. Stir it all around for a few minutes over medium low heat until bubbly. Serve immediately.


We had the pasta for dinner tonight. It went surprisinly well with lobster:

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