Charcuterie / Side Dishes

Orecchiette with Ham and Peas in Cheese Sauce

with Jambon de Paris - Cooked Ham - 6 lbs

​8 servings

Ingredients

3/4 lbs. (cut into 1/2-inch dice) Jambon de Paris

​1 lb. orecchiette 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup unsalted butter, more for the dish

1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3 cups whole milk, warmed

2 cups freshly grated Grana Padano

2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

1/4 tsp. Tabasco

2 cups frozen peas, thawed

1/2 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions

​Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the pasta; cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta well, and return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, for the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium  saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and becomes translucent. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until it turns golden and smells nutty. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, and cook, whisking occasionally to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pan.. Remove from the heat and stir in all but 1/2 cup of Grana Padano, the thyme, 1-1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the Tabasco. Stir the ham and peas into the sauce; taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Stir 1/4 cup of the pasta water into the béchamel so it loosens a bit and then toss with the pasta in the pasta pot. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and sprinkle over the pasta. Bake the pasta until it bubbles and browns around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool for a couple of minutes and then serve.

Recipe credits: Tony Rosenfeld