Macaroni con patate al forno – Marcaroni and potato gratin
March brings the uplifting prospect of longer days, daffodils and cherry blossom. And sometimes the shift to more spring-like weather. But not this year, so far. We woke to a deep frost on Saturday morning and a biting wind so I took refuge in this winter-warmer dish raise my spirits, and maybe yours as well if you are in the northern hemisphere north of Rome. As a variant you could add crisp pancetta or bacon to the final mix, but it’s not essential. Preparation time is about 25 minutes and cooking time 35 minutes which gives you time to set the table and pour a glass of wine.
Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
2 egg yolks
½ tsp nutmeg
1 large onion
1tbl olive oil
salt and pepper
1. Peel and dice the potatoes, and boil until al dente in salted water. Strain
2. While the potatoes are cooking, make a béchamel sauce by melting the butter, stirring in the flour and gradually adding the milk already warmed until you have a smooth sauce. Then stir in the egg yolks, half the parmesan, the nutmeg and finely chopped parsley. Season to taste.
3. Put the macaroni on to cook.
4. Fry the onion finely sliced in the remaining butter and the olive oil until it begins to caramelise (for maximum flavour).
5. Now assemble the ingredients, placing them in a well greased baking dish. Strain the macaroni and add to the potatoes, then amalgamate with the sauce and the onion. If you are using pancetta, add it at this stage.
6. Scatter the remaining parmesan on top and place in a moderate oven – 170 degrees C. with a piece of foil to protect the top of the dish. Remove the foil after 20 minutes and allow the dish to brown which should take a further 10-15 minutes.