This recipe is very loosely adapted from the tagliolini baked in a sumptuous Parmesan bechamel that they serve at Venice's iconic Harry's Bar. I first made this at home after I ate it at the restaurant and found myself craving more. What I have discovered since is that it also - like most baked pasta dishes, for that matter - lends itself wonderfully well to large gatherings. Firstly, it's the kind of food that everyone loves. And secondly, it can be made well in advance - even a day or so ahead - covered and stored in the fridge, then simply warmed in the oven until golden and bubbly. If you have vegetarians among your number, leave out the pancetta, which is salty and delicious but not integral, and season the already cheesy sauce with a more generous dash of Parmesan.
For the pasta
- 350 grams tagliatelle
- 60 grams salted butter
- 100 grams chopped pancetta
- 90 grams Parmesan cheese (grated)
- fine sea salt
For the bechamel
- 40 grams salted butter
- 40 grams plain flour (preferably type '00'
- 330 millilitres whole milk
- a good grating of nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
Tagliatelle Gratin is a guest recipe by Skye McAlpine so we are not able to answer questions regarding this recipe
- Heat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/Gas 7. Fill a large saucepan with cold water, add a generous pinch of salt and bring to the boil.
- While the water heats, make the bechamel: spoon the butter into a small saucepan set over a very low heat, stirring until melted. The moment it becomes liquid, add the flour and stir vigorously until a thick paste forms, then continue to stir over the heat for a minute, for the flour to cook. Add a splash of the milk and keep stirring until it becomes a thick cream. Keep stirring constantly as you slowly pour in the rest of the milk, then keep going until the sauce begins to thicken to the texture of a soft custard. Take it off the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and set aside.
- When the water is boiling, add the tagliatelle and cook until al dente (5-6 minutes), bearing in mind that the pasta will cook more once it is in the oven. Meanwhile, spoon one-third of the butter into a large frying pan set over a medium heat. As the butter begins to melt, add the pancetta and fry until cooked through.
- When the pasta is ready, drain it and add to the frying pan. Add another one-third of the butter and sprinkle with half the Parmesan, then toss together until the pasta is well coated in cheese, with crisp pieces of pancetta running through it.
- Spoon into an ovenproof casserole dish (about 1.5-litre capacity) and spread it out evenly. Pour the bechamel over the pasta and sprinkle with what is left of the cheese, then cut the remaining butter into small pieces and scatter them over the top. Cover and set in the fridge for up to a day.
- When you want to eat, place the dish at the top of the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes (or a little longer, a further 10 minutes or so, if you've taken the dish from the fridge), until golden brown and bubbling on top. To test if the pasta is warmed through, insert a knife to the very centre of the dish: when you take it out, the tip should feel hot to touch. Serve immediately while still hot.