For the Bechamel:
4tablespoons butter
1/4cup all-purpose (plain) flour
2cups milk
1pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
salt and pepper
For the gratin:
2tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing
scant 2 cups Béchamel sauce (recipe included) or store-bought
2/3cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
12ounces macaroni


For the Béchamel sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in all the milk, making sure the sauce is smooth between each addition.
  2. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously until it starts to boil. Season with salt, lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 20 minutes. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and not run off. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Season to taste, and add the nutmeg, if using.
  4. Béchamel sauce should not taste floury. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If too runny, boil for a little longer. For a richer béchamel sauce, replace half themilk with the same amount of heavy (double) cream; for a lighter sauce, replace half the milk with the same amount of water. Use in gratins or lasagne.

For the macaroni au gratin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F /220°C/Gas Mark 7.
  2. Grease an ovenproof baking dish with butter.
  3. Combine the Béchamel sauce, Parmesan, butter, and egg yolks in a bowl.
  4. Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water until al dente, then drain and pour into a bowl. Gently stir in half the béchamel sauce mixture and put the pasta in the prepared dish, then spoon the remaining béchamel sauce mixture on top. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until golden brown.


The Silver Spoon: Quick and Easy Italian RecipesThis recipe was republished with permission from The Silver Spoon: Quick and Easy Italian Recipes (Phaidon, 2015); all recipes in this collection can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. This cookbook has been published in honor of the 10th anniversary of the publication in English of the iconic The Silver Spoon.

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