Friday, December 13, 2013

Carmela Soprano's Baked Ziti In Bianco and Bechamel Sauce


In February, 2010 I compared Carmela Soprano's Baked Ziti In Bianco to Ma's Timpana.
Only a fool would think they are just plates of pasta.
We're talking about respect must be paid, iconic pasta dinners.

Christmas is coming.
If you haven't decided on a main course, this could be it.
Or, at the very least, a first course.

As I had written in 2010:
For anyone who ever saw the series, Carmela's Ziti was the stuff of legend. In the first season, cute little A.J. said his first televised cuss word because he was worried he wasn't going to get his mother's Ziti. 
Oh, how quickly they grow up. 
Whenever there was a problem, out came the Ziti. 

This past summer I gave the recipe for Ma's Timpana.
I'm very overdue in doing the same for Baked Ziti In Bianco.
For that I'm sorry.  Here it is.
Enjoy!!

Hints:

The Bechamel Sauce can be made a day in advance.

Al dente means firm to the bite.
You want the pasta a little under done so it will not get mushy when it's baked.

For the ziti you'll need a total of:
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
6 ounces smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2 -inch cubes
4 ounces thick-sliced boiled ham, cut into narrow strips
1/2 Cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmesan)


                              Bechamel Sauce 

Makes 4 Cups

Heat in a medium saucepan
4 Cups milk
Heat until small bubbles form around the edges.

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Add, stirring well
1/4 Cup flour
Cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Very slowly, stirring constantly, add the milk to the flour/butter mixture.
Don't panic!  It'll look lumpy, but it will smooth out.

After all the milk has been added, Add
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and WHITE pepper to taste

Raise the heat to medium and simmer 2 minutes.
Remove from heat.

Pour into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface.
This prevents a skin from forming.
The sauce can be chilled and stored up to 24 hours in advance.


                              Baked Ziti In Bianco

Serves 8 to 12

In a large pot, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil.
Add
1 pound ziti
Salt to taste
Cook, stirring frequently, until the ziti is al dente.
Drain the ziti and put it in a large bowl. 
Toss ziti with 
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Grease an 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 2-inch baking dish.

Spoon a thin layer of Bechamel Sauce into the baking dish. 
* Make a layer of 1/3 of the ziti in the baking dish. 
Sprinkle with
1/3 of the fresh and smoked mozzarella and ham 
2 Tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmesan)

Repeat from * two more times.
Spoon the remaining Bechamel Sauce into the baking dish.  
Sprinkle with
the remaining grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmesan)

The ziti can be refrigerated for several hours at this point. 
Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.
       
Bake the ziti, uncovered, for 40 minutes. 
The sauce should be bubbling and the top lightly browned.
Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Want a little variety?
Try Carmela's Baked Ziti with Tiny Meatballs or 

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