Baked Three-Cheese Pasta with Pancetta
3 tablespoons, plus 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
1 pound pancetta, cut into pea-sized cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups (1 pound), plus 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds penne pasta
1 L cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter two 3-quart baking dishes.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1/2 cup butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour
and stir constantly for 3 minutes; do not brown. Whisk in the half-and-half and
cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the
heat, stir in the salt, pepper, and the 4 cups Parmesan cheese until the cheese
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the penne until tender but firm,
about 12 minutes. Drain and toss with the cheese sauce. Add the pancetta mixture
and toss thoroughly. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the Gruyère and fontina. Stir to blend.
In a small bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, the bread crumbs,
Layer one-fourth of the pasta in each baking dish. Sprinkle each layer evenly
with one-fourth of the cheese mixture. Repeat the process with the remaining
pasta and cheese mixture. Cover the top with the bread crumb mixture.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let
rest for 5 minutes before serving. If you are planning on reheating, bake the
pasta for 25 to 30 minutes initially, then reheat for 10 to 15 minutes.