Baked Pappardelle with Pancetta and Porcini

Pasta bake doesn’t have to come out of a jar. This recipe from Simon Hopkinson, first seen on BBC TV on his programme ‘The Good Cook’ is very grown up yet still as simple to make and satisfying to eat as a student tuna pasta bake.

Dried pasta is cooked whilst the sauce is prepared: the recipe calls for the broader ribboned pappardelle but we used tagliatelle because, well, we had tagliatelle.

Dried porcini mushrooms are rehydrated in a saucepan of warming milk whilst a roux of butter and flour is cooked. Rather than adding the pancetta later, we cooked ours with the roux so that the bacon fat might have its greatest, flavourful impact. The porcini flavoured milk is then added to the roux, constantly mixing in all the while to ensuring for a smooth, creamy sauce.

Rather than transferring the sauce and pasta to a third dish to place in the oven, we just put the oven-proof frying pan straight in. Before doing this we emptied nearly an entire pot of greater parmesan over the top. You may wish to follow the recipe and use two tablespoons.

Thirty minute later, the parmesan has both melted into the thick sauce and formed a crisp top. Simple and impressive.