Ham & Veal Pasta

Todays culinary delight was Nigella’s Baked Ham & Veal Pasta which gave me the opportunity to use my new food processor (yes! a HUGE success).

Unfortunately i wish i could say the same for the dish, it was basically….boring lol. I think the kids thought so as well because when i got home their plates (which they had kindly left on the kitchen side for me to clear up!) were still full 😦

  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 75g pancetta, chopped roughly
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped roughly
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
  • good handful fresh parsley
  • 2 heaped tablespoons lard or 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 tablespoons Marsala
  • 325g veal, ground (i couldn’t find veal so used pork)
  • 95g unsalted butter, plus more for greasing and dotting
  • 95g Italian 00 or all-purpose flour
  • pinch mace, plus ¼ teaspoon
  • salt and freshly milled white or black pepper
  • 1.4 litres whole milk
  • 5 bay leaves
  • fresh nutmeg
  • 110g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for grating over later
  • 500g penne or rigatoni
  1. Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, and boil for 7 minutes. Drain. Put the pancetta into a food processor. Peel the garlic (just press them and the cloves wil pop out of their skins) and throw into the processor with the celery, onion, carrot, and parsley, and pulse until finely chopped. Melt the lard or oil in a heavybottomed frying pan and then, when it’s hot, add the vegetable mixture. Stir well over highish heat for a minute or so, adding the paprika, mace, and Marsala, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick, for 15 minutes.
  2. While this is happening, put water on to boil for the pasta. When the 15 minutes are up, briefly turn the heat back to high, add the ground veal, and turn well for a minute or so before, again, turning down to low for 15 minutes. While this is cooking, get on with the béchamel.
  3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and pinch of mace, and cook for a couple of minutes, stil stirring, adding a fat pinch of salt and some pepper. Off the heat, slowly stir in the milk.
  4. When all the milk’s smoothly amalgamated, add the bay leaves and put back on a medium heat, stirring, until the sauce cooks and thickens, then reduce the heat to low. Although you want to cook this for  about 20 minutes, so it’s velvety, bear in mind that this is meant to be a thin, runny sauce. Toward the end of cooking time, taste for salt (though remember, you will be adding quite a bit of salty Parmesan later) and pepper and add, too, the remaining mace and grate in some nutmeg. When the sauce is cooked and the flouriness gone—taste after 12 minutes if you’re using 00 flour—turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan, beating well with your wooden spoon to make sure all is smoothly incorporated. You should by now have started cooking the pasta. You want it slightly undercooked, as it will be cooked again in the oven. On the packages of penne I have at home, the instructions are to cook for 13 minutes; for this recipe, I drain them after 10.
  5. Butter a lasagne dish or any form of shallowish casserole and pour in about a third of the béchamel; don’t bother to measure, just make a rough estimate by eye. Add the drained pasta and turn wel to coat. Add the veal and toss wel again, then another third of the béchamel and give a good final mix, adding more salt and pepper, if necessary. Level the pasta in the pan and pour over the last third of béchamel. Let cool, then put, covered, in the fridge for a couple of days or so before baking, though of course you can put it straightaway in the oven to bake if you want (in which case it will need less time than otherwise mentioned).
  6. If you’ve fridged it, take it out and make sure it’s at room temperature before you bake it. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and dot with butter and bake in a preheated 375°F oven until golden and bubbly, about 40 minutes.

Well, needless to say, i didn’t fridge it…would that have made a difference?


I served it with some cheese and onion bread and a roasted pepper bread…both of which were much tastier than the pasta lol.

Oh well, it wouldn’t be an adventure without failure would it 😉


4 thoughts on “Ham & Veal Pasta

  1. It is annoying when a recipe turns out to be a dud I had that with a saffron Chicken recipe I did in the slow cooker a couple of weeks ago, but lesson learnt and it did spawn other ideas, I have to say veal is one of the things I don’t eat on principle but reading this actually served as a reminder that I should still look at the recipes as meats can be substituted 😀

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