Recipe Index

Italian | Penne al Forno

Posted on June 19, 2012

I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese, so I made this. I am a bit of a nerd and when I make this dish I like to say out loud: butter + flour = roux + milk = Bechamel + crème fraîche = cream sauce + cheese = sauce Mornay. You can top with Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, or add bacon or pancetta. Lots of combinations possible, this recipe is just a starting point.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

penne al forno


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups whole milk

1 cup crème fraîche

1 1/4 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded

kosher salt, to taste

white pepper, to taste

freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

8 ounces penne, cooked al dente



Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.


Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat until raw flour taste and smell is gone, about 3 minutes.


Add the milk, whisking constantly, and continue whisking until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Test with wooden spoon, should hold line.


Take saucepan off the heat and whisk in the crème fraîche.


Add Gruyere cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.


Drain the pasta and transfer to a large baking dish. Add sauce Mornay and mix. Sprinkle top with Parmesan or bread crumbs, if using. Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until top is lightly toasted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


(Adapted from various cooking classes.)