20 February 2013

Three Cheeses Macaroni and Savoy Cabbage

This simple but filling pasta dish was featured at the beginning of February 2013 on the TV Cooking Show Dagelijkse Kost (Everyday meals), on the Flemish channel Eén. This daily show is hosted by Jeroen Meus, the Belgian chef of the restaurant Luzine, who has become increasingly popular since he began hosting this TV show and wrote several cookbooks (4 already, all of which I have on the shelf).  His dishes are not extremely sophisticated as he believes that you can make good food without having to spend fortunes on fancy ingredients.  Hence the name of the programme.

I choose to make this particular dish as I wanted something that I could use in my lunchbox and that wouldn't be too much of a hassle to prepare.  Moreover cabbage being in season right now, it was the ideal moment to give it a try.

Ingredients needed for 4 servings :

* 300g ground meat (beef/pork mix)
* 1⁄2 of a savoy cabbage
* butter
* pinch of dried sage
* pinch of dried rosemary
* pinch of dried oregano
* parsley

for the cheese sauce :

* 30g butter
* 30g all purpose flour
* 500ml milk
* 125g ricotta
* 75 g Comté cheese (the original recipe required mature Gouda)
* 75 g Parmesan cheese
* 1⁄2 lemon
* nutmeg
* pepper
* salt 

Bring a large amount of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile melt a bit of butter in a skillet on medium fire.   
Season the ground meat with a selection of dried herbs (sage, rosemary and oregano) and mix it all together.
Spread the meat over the hot skillet in medium sized lumps, and let it fry untouched for a while.  After a few minutes you can stir it while take care not to crumble it up too much.  As soon as it has reached a nice golden brown crust, set aside .

Remove the outer tough leaves of the savoy cabbage.  Cut the vegtable into quarters and then further into large strips. Rinse the strips of thoroughly making sure to remove any specks of dirt or sand and let it drain.

Boil the cabbage strips for 5 to 6 minutes in the salted water.  remove the cabbage from the pot and bring the water to the boil again in order to cook the macaroni.

In a large pot cooking pot, melt a bit of butter and add flour. Stir until you get a roux.  Let it cook briefly (until it smells like baked cookies).
Add the milk and keep whisking.  Bring the sauce almost to boiling point, until the bechamel has thickened without lumps. Reduce the heat.

Grate the Comté and the parmesan cheese.
Stir the ricotta and the grated cheese into the sauce and keep stirring until they have completely melted.  Season to taste with nutmeg, pepper and salt.  Finish with a dash of lemon juice. 
Keep the sauce hot but avoid burning it.

Cook the pasta al dente.

Stir the meat and the cabbage into the sauce.
Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce as well.
Mix everything together and season a bit more if necessary.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.


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