1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound imported elbow macaroni
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for greasing ramekins
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
9 black peppercorns
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup mascarpone
6 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed and diced
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
6 ounces Pecorino Romano, coarsely grated
1 cup garlic bread crumbs (recipe follows)
Truffle oil, for drizzling
Note: You'll need 8-ounce ramekins for this dish.
Butter the ramekins. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and stir just until the water returns to a boil. Cook until just al dente, drain, shaking well. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir constantly for 2 minutes; don't allow the flour to brown. Add 1 cup of the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly. Stir until smooth, then add the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 21/2 cups of milk.
Increase the heat to medium-high and continue stirring frequently until the liquid reaches a boil (don't let it boil over). Boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low so the milk barely simmers, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes more.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, and then strain through a sieve into a very large bowl, working the onions back and forth with a rubber spatula to extract all the liquid possible. Immediately stir in plenty of ground pepper, the nutmeg, mascarpone, Tallegio, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Pecorino Romano, stirring until the cheeses are just melted.
Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, mounding slightly, and top each with a big pinch of the bread crumbs.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is quietly sizzling and the bread crumbs are golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, drizzle with the truffle oil, and serve.
GARLIC BREAD CRUMBS
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 cups
5 ounces (about 3 thick slices), country-style white bread, crusts removed
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Pulse the bread in a food processor until it is in coarse crumbs. Toss the crumbs with the garlic, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the olive oil and work vigorously with a rubber spatula to force the oil into the crumbs.
This recipe is from Donatella Arpaia's "Donatella Cooks: Simple Foods Made Glamorous."
Available for order through your favourite online bookstores. This book is delicious, simple yet elegant! A must for any fan and those who simply enjoy great food done well! Take care, we are off on a new foodie adventure. Check back soon for deets and photos!