Pirate’s Ham and Cheese Casserole
Preheat oven to 350F
- 1 pound pasta of choice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
- 1/2 cup smoked Gouda
- 2 cups chunked or diced ham
- 1-1 1/2 cups cooked broccoli florets
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Boil water and prepare pasta according to package directions. Rinse, drain and set aside.
Butter or grease a 2 quart oven-proof casserole dish and set aside. Steam or microwave broccoli and set aside.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium to large saucepan, over medium/high heat. Sprinkle flour over bubbling butter while mixing with a wooden spoon or wire whip. Cook butter-flour mixture, while stirring, 2 minutes.
Slowly stir in milk. Continue whisking until milk starts to thicken. Add mustard and ground white pepper. (Black pepper is fine, it will just be more visible in the dish). Cook until milk is silky thick.
Turn off heat and stir in cheeses and ham. Gently blend ingredients.
Finally, gently fold in broccoli. You don’t want to mush it into a million pieces. If the saucepan is large enough, gently fold pasta into sauce, then pour everything into the casserole dish. If the saucepan won’t accommodate all of the pasta, just add half.
Pour half of sauced pasta into casserole. Add remaining pasta that is not sauced to casserole, then top with remaining sauced pasta. It will all come together.
Top casserole with Panko bread crumbs. If you like, sprinkle a little grated Parmesan or Romano over the top, followed by a drizzling of melted butter.
Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 30-40 minutes, or until it’s browned and bubbly.