Turkey and Broccoli Penne al Forno


"Al Forno" describes baked pasta dishes, such as this satisfying combination of turkey, broccoli and penne baked in a creamy Gruyère and Parmesan cheese sauce. For best results, slightly undercook the broccoli and pasta, as they will continue to cook in the casserole. All you need is a simple salad and some good bread to complete the meal.

Cheese Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Pasta:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 quarts cool water
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus extra for buttering baking dish
  • 1 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups leftover turkey, cut into bite-size cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
For the Sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan; stir in the flour, and cook over low heat for 3 minutes. Off the heat, add the milk all at one time, whisking constantly. Return the pan to the heat, and continue whisking until the sauce comes to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes. If necessary, strain the sauce when it reaches the desired consistency; season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the mustard. Whisk in the cheeses, a little at a time; continue whisking until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth. (Note: Return to very low heat if necessary). Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

For the Pasta: In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a rolling boil over high heat. Pour in the pasta all at one time, stirring to separate and prevent sticking together; cook until tender throughout but with a slight bite (al dente). Drain the pasta, transfer to a large bowl and toss with half the butter.

Cook the broccoli in rapidly boiling salted water for one minute; drain, then immediately plunge into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Quickly remove the florets from the ice water, and drain thoroughly; pat dry with paper towels. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Heat the remaining butter in a sauté pan; cook the onion until tender and translucent but not browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. Mix the onion, cheese sauce, turkey and broccoli into the pasta; season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Turn the pasta mixture into a large buttered baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake in the preheated oven until the breadcrumbs are lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Tips and Techniques
Make It Light: Substitute nonfat milk; reduce cheese to 2 ounces; reduce butter to 2 teaspoons.

Make It Ahead: The Cheese Sauce may be made and refrigerated up to the three days in advance (or made and frozen up to one month in advance). Cool quickly and completely in an ice water bath prior to storing. Unbaked, the Turkey and Broccoli Penne al Forno can be stored, without breadcrumbs, up to three days in the refrigerator (or one month in the freezer). If frozen, cover with aluminum foil and extend the baking time by 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and add the breadcrumbs the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Serves 6 to 8

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