just pasta savoury delights

a book, grey sky & tagliatelle gratin

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Dieser Beitrag enthält Werbung – adverstising.

Let’s start w/ the obvious!

Today is one of these grey days – last week we had lots of them w/ lots of rain. Now it’s getting really cold. During the coming days it’ll be below zero day & night, however, almost no snow. (This – the lack of snow – may be horrible if you crave for a walk in crisp white snow surrounded by snow filled trees under a clear blue sky – although masses of snow may also be horrible when you recall that snow means getting up early – very early – to clear the pavement in front of your home & in front of your garage etc. of ankle-deep snow fallen during the night.)

Therefore you’ll definitely need something substantial & delicious which will comfort you during these days. I prepared a simple tagliatelle gratin some time ago when the weather was alike.

During the preceding weekend I had read the new cookbook A Table for Friends: The Art of Cooking for Two or Twenty by Skye McAlpine. (The cookbook will also be available in German in March 2021.)

I stumbled across this rather simple dish & at once decided to try it. Of course there are only my better half & me – so I downsized the recipe to meet our appetite, however, generously. I used a casserole w/ a fitting lid so that in case that there ere any leftovers I just could close the lid & park the casserole in my fridge. (It wasn’t necessary!)

The tagliatelle gratin is simple, but great – crisp & creamy at the same time, full of flavor although there is only a small quantity of pancetta. You won’t need anything along with it – ok: my better half & I had also some tomato salad.

Well – cooking for twenty … I don’t think that I’d like to cook for 20 people mingling in my home – quite irrespective of wether I have pots & pans & casseroles large enough … The cookbook, however, is a thorough approach to how to plan & prepare dinner resp. lunch or brunch for having friends around.

I especially like the author’s decision of omitting elaborate starters & having instead some nibbles (cheese, bacon, olives …) w/ fresh bread. Instead she concentrates on the main course & the dessert (!). In my opinion the dessert often is neglected in favour of the previous courses – definitely a shortcoming!

I’ll work w/ this cookbook more during the year – I’m sure!

What else happened?

Last night my better half & I watched The Dig (i. e. Die Ausgrabung).

Honestly, if I hadn’t wikipedia-ed the subject I wouldn’t have got a clue about the greatness & the importance of the discovery. I think it was somewhat of a shortcoming of the movie.

What surprised me after my research in Wikipedia was the casting of the main characters for the movie. In 1939 Edith Pretty was 56 years old, while Carey Mulligan is only 35 years old – and during the movie she doesn’t look like a mid-50s. Also Basil Brown was 51 years old in 1939, while Ralph Fiennes is 58 years old, looking much older by make-up in this movie than in his recent appearances.
(Am I too nitpicking?)

Coming back to the tagliatelle gratin …

What do we need?

  • tagliatelle (of course!)
  • milk, butter, flour, nutmeg for the bechamel
  • pancetta
  • grated pecorino
  • some butter (1 piece for the pasta, 1 piece for the pancetta, 1 piece for the topping).

We start w/ the tagliatelle. (You may also use taglierini or fettuccine).

Fill a pot w/ water & bring it to a boil. Add some salt & cook the pasta al dente (about 7-8 min – check the package information to be on the safe side). Later on during gratin session the pasta will get somewhat softer.

While the pasta is cooking chop the pancetta – roughly. Start frying the pancetta in some butter (1st piece) w/ a pinch of salt – softly. (Instead of pancetta you may also use Italian bacon or South-Tyrolean bacon.)

If you don’t happen to have some grated pecorino (or parmesan) in your fridge start grating now.

… & don’t forget to preheat the oven to 200°C w/ fan.

For the record:
Butter w/ a pinch of salt … The recipe uses salted butter, but I didn’t manage to find some in my fridge. So I worked w/ butter & added some salt.

Drain the pasta & mix w/ some butter (2nd piece) & a pinch of salt. Add the pancetta & half of the grated pecorino. Put the mess in a casserole & mix once more.

For the bechamel melt the butter, add the flour & whisk at once & vigorously. Add the milk & whisk until creamy. Finally add salt, pepper & nutmeg – freshly grated!

The bechamel marches into the casserole & the mess gets creamy after stirring. Add the rest of the grated pecorino on top.

The final touch is the butter (3rd piece) on top of it all.

For the record:
You may store the prepared casserole in your fridge for some hours i. e. during afternoon if you like to do the oven session before serving.

Afterwards the casserole marches into the preheated oven for about 20 min. Check that it doesn’t get to brown or burnt!

You may serve the gratin at once – what we did. You could also let it chill for some time & reheat.


a book, grey sky & tagliatelle gratin
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings: 2
for the pasta:
  • 150 g tagliatelle
  • 10 g butter
  • a pinch of salt
for the filling:
  • 25 g pecorino (grated)
  • 50 g pancetta (roughly chopped)
  • 10 g butter
  • a pinch of salt
for the bechamel:
  • 20 g butter
  • 20 g all-purpose flour
  • 150 ml milk (1.5%)
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated)
  • a pinch of pepper (freshly grated)
on top:
  • 25 g pecorino (grated)
  • 10 g butter
  • casserole (about 1.3 l)
how to:
  • Fill a pot w/ water & bring it to a boil. Add the tagliatelle & cook for about 7-8 min. Check the cooking time on the package & adjust if necessary. The pasta shall be al dente.
  • Start preheating the oven to 200° C w/ fan.
  • Grate the pecorino. You'll need 50 g altogether. So grate & divide.
  • Chop the pancetta roughly.
  • Start frying the pancetta softly in some butter w/ a pinch of salt.
  • Drain the pasta & put it back into the pot. Add butter & salt & mix.
  • Put the pasta into the pan w/ the pancetta & mix. Add the grated pecorino (1st batch) – mix again.
  • Finally put everything in the casserole.
for the bechamel:
  • Melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour & whisk vigorously.
  • Add the milk & whisk until it's creamy.
  • Add some nutmeg & some pepper.
  • Pour the bechamel all over the pasta mix in the casserole & mix.
  • Distribute the grated pecorino (2nd batch) evenly on top.
  • Add some butter in small pieces.
  • Put the casserole into the preheated oven for about 20 min.
Tagliatelle: You may also use fettuccine.
Pecorino: You may also use parmesan.
Pancetta: You may also use Italian bacon or South-Tyrolean bacon.

(information on equipment)