What could be better than ham and cheese? Nothing! Michael Symon whips up a delicious Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Bake!
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 cups gruyere cheese (shredded)
2 large eggs (room temperature)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 pound penne pasta
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups ham (sliced 1/4-inch, diced)
6 cups swiss chard (leaves and stems, sliced)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
For the Bechamel: Preheat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Add the milk, cream, salt, and pepper, and whisk to combine. Whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened and begins to boil slightly. Remove from heat, whisk in the cayenne, paprika, gruyere and the eggs into the bechamel until thoroughly combined, and pour over the penne mixture.
For the Pasta Bake: Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente and set aside.
Preheat a shallow cast enamel pot or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the ham, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the swiss chard, and cook, stirring occasionally until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked penne pasta. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Tip: 1. Make sure to constantly whisk the bechamel when adding the eggs to keep the eggs from cooking. If necessary, add a 1 cup of the bechamel to to the egg yolks in a separate bowl and whisk to combine then add this mixture to the saucepan of bechamel sauce and whisk to combine.
2. Assemble the casserole the day before and bake before dinner.