Mac 'n Cheese with Ham
This is something I came up with during a blizzard when we couldn’t get out for groceries. I had to make do with what I had - and it turned out to be a favorite!
I started out by cooking 1 lb. combination pastas (that’s what you call - some of this, a little of that, and a handful of that one and the rest of that one that’s in the bag! — you can use elbows, spirals, penne, wheels, whatever you prefer) in boiling salted water until al dente; drain when done (of course!)
While the water was coming to a boil I started my sauce.
In one saucepan, I brought 2 1/2 c. milk to a simmer (do NOT boil!) removed from heat and set aside; and in a pan large enough to hold the cooked pasta, I melted 1/4 c. butter, added 1/4 c. flour and cooked for 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk; bring to just about boiling (whisking frequently) and add 1 1/2 c. Gruyere cheese (I have also used Swiss for this and it is just as good!) along with 1 c. cubed cooked ham, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of cayenne, if desired. Combine well and add drained pasta with 1/2 c. fresh grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.
Transfer to buttered baking dish and top with 1/2 c. bread crumbs. You can use seasoned if you like or plain. I like to place bits of butter on top of the crumbs.
Place in 375*F. oven for 15 - 20 minutes until heated through and crumbs are lightly toasted.
This is one dish that can be a meal with a salad and bread/rolls or as a side for a nice chicken dinner! Goes over big at church gatherings!