You might be surprised to know that the French have comfort food! Many French dishes are elegant and sophistiqué, but they also love a warm bowl of pasta and cheese with ham on a cold or rainy evening. It’s not all canapés and roast duck!
My dear friend and restaurant chef Daniel Hudry introduced me to this pasta, and I have since read in several places about the “French Mac-n-Cheese” recipe Gratin de Coquillettes au Jambon. The French will make a big batch of this pasta and mound it in a bowl to eat with a spoon, bake it in a casserole dish, or ball it up and fry it into mouth-sized morsels of ham, cheese, and pasta. You can even find this dish at the supermarché in France in the pre-made foods section. Ooh la la!
coquillettes au jambon
- 2 tablespoons shallots, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced (green germ removed)
- 1 teaspoon garlic, pressed (green germ removed)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (Bertolli Extra Virgin)
- 2 teaspoons salted French butter
- 1 lb coquillettes (small elbow macaroni)
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 tablespoons Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
- pinch white pepper
- 2 teaspoons melted butter per person
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (for topping when served)
- 12-16 pieces ham, 2" long x 1/8" thick
- 6-8 small flat leaf parsley leaves
- Prepare shallots and garlic and set aside. In a 4-quart stock pot over medium heat, add butter and olive oil. When butter stops foaming, add shallots and garlic. Sauté for one minute, add dry pasta, and sauté for 3 more minutes. Next add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to simmer pasta until tender. Drain pasta in strainer and place cooked pasta back into original pot, adding heavy cream and cheeses. Stir until cheese is melted.
- Serve in Staub mini cocottes or other bowls. Drizzle with butter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and top with ham in “x” pattern. Garnish with small flat parsley leaf in the middle of the “x.” Serve immediately and enjoy!
I hope you will find comfort in this delicious (and easy!) recipe. You can also use this type of pasta (though without the ham & cheese) in my Beef Bourguignon recipe, found in my new cookbook Ooh la la! French Inspirations for Entertainment and Travel, available at a special price of $40, which includes shipping. We are all staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we all need a treat. Happy cooking!