A few weeks ago, I had a prosciutto situation. We don't eat a huge amount of it, but every now and then we buy it for a kickass pesto-burrata-pesto-pizza situation. I tend to buy it freshly sliced, and up until recently I had bought it at whole foods. There's this awful woman who works there, who would easily win the award for slowest prosciutto slicer in the world. The first time I encountered her I had just come from the gym, and she hit me with "Oh, so you just went to the gym, and now you're buying prosciutto? Ok then. Whatever works for you", then proceeded to take the longest time in the world to slice me a quarter pound of the stuff. Not impressed.
My second encounter (This is the most boring story ever), I did the usual, asked for a quarter pound, then started to wait. She said to me "If you have any other shopping to do, you could do it now and come back, because this is going to take a while". Judging from the last experience I took her word for it, did the rest of my shopping, and came back to find she had mis-heard me and cut one and a quarter pounds of prosciutto. It was a MOUNTAIN. And because I am too chicken to say anything, I took it from her, and hid it in the back of the fridge for fear of Rich judging me and my terrible track record of standing up for myself.
So clearly, the only thing to do with it was to eat it! We had two pizza nights, and only made a tiny dent in pork mountain. The only option I had left was to put it into something that Rich inhales: Mac and cheese. Turns out if you pan fry prosciutto, it goes amazingly crispy, which is the perfect addition to mac and cheese! I used a mixture of cheddar cheese and mozzarella for this one, which added a nice stringy-ness, although you can really go ahead and use whatever cheese you like. This is the ultimate comfort food, something that friends often request when they are coming around for dinner. It is easy to make ahead - prepare it up to the stage where it is ready for the oven, then store in the fridge until ready to bake. Leftovers also heat up perfectly.
I made this in four individual cocottes, which works perfectly for us because I suck at sharing. A 9x9 baking dish would also work too.
Crispy Prosciutto macaroni and cheese
- Serves 4-6 people -
1/4 lb (115g) prosciutto
11oz (300g) medium pasta shells
4 Tbsp (60g) butter
4 Tbsp (36g) flour
3 cups (730ml) milk
5 oz (140g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 oz (140g) mozzarella cheese, grated
4 oz (120g) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup (25g) panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup (55g) regular bread crumbs
- PROCESS -
Preheat oven to 400˚f/200˚c. In a frying pan over medium to high heat, fry the prosciutto slices until crispy. Remove and leave to cool. Roughly chop and set aside.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large pot over high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and, stirring constantly, cook until foamy. Continue to cook for a further 30 seconds - 1 minute. Turn the heat to low and, whisking constantly, slowly add the milk. Return the heat to high and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until thickened. Season well with salt and pepper.
Remove the sauce from the heat, and add the cheddar, mozzarella and half the parmesan cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted and the sauce is homogenous. Taste and season again if necessary. Add the cooked pasta and chopped prosciutto to the pot, and stir well to combine. Pour into baking dish / dishes.
Combine the panko breadcrumbs, regular breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the surface of the pasta.
Place the baking dish on a baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving.