Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jacques Pepin's Pasta & Ham Gratin

This glorious gratin is a fantastic way to use up that leftover ham from Easter.  A comforting combination of pasta, ham, peas, and Gruyere cheese tossed in a creamy and smooth bechamel sauce then topped with a lots of Parmesan that gets all browned and crispy.  It's heavenly!

This is the first Jacques Pepin recipe that I've made and it was a smashing success! I'm really looking forward to cooking and exploring Pepin's recipes. He has a large variety of recipes from various cuisines around the world, but it's his traditional French recipes that really draw me in. Over the next six months I hope to get familiar with lots of classical French dishes, from Coquilles St. Jacques to Chocolate Mousse. Who knows, I may even try my hand at some homemade croissants!

Time to break out the butter and Champagne.

Pasta, Ham, and Veggie Gratin
Adapted from Fast Food My Way
by Jacques Pepin
Serves 4

Jacques says, "My mother loved gratins, and leftover meat and cold cuts always found their way into our pasta, usually along with zucchini or peas. I have made gratins for my family through the years."

About 1-3/4 cups pasta shells or penne
1-1/2 cups diced cooked ham
3/4 cup cooked corn kernels (1 ear of corn)*
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1-1/2 cups cubed  (1/2-inch) zucchini*
3/4 cup grated Swiss/Gruyere/Emmenthaler cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

White Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Note: I didn't have corn or zucchini so I opted to use only peas. Broccoli and/or Cauliflower would also be nice.

 Bring about 2 quarts salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the pasta, stir well, and return to a boil.  Boil, uncovered, until cooked but still slightly firm, or al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, cool under cold running water, then drain again. (You will have 3 cups.)

Put the cooked pasta in a large bowl and stir in the ham, corn, peas, zucchini, salt, pepper, and cheese.

For the white sauce:  Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, and mix it in with a whisk. Add the milk and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally with the whisk, especially at the edges of the saucepan. The sauce should thicken. Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the cream. Let cool to lukewarm.

Heat the broiler.  Combine the sauce with the pasta mixture in the bowl and transfer to a gratin dish or shallow baking dish with about 6 cup capacity.  Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top.

Broil about 4 inches from the heat source for 6-8 minutes, or until bubbly hot and the surface is lightly browned.  Serve immediately.

Make Ahead Instructions: The gratin can be made ahead, sprinkled with Parmesan, and kept, covered at room temperature for a few hours or refrigerated for up to a day before it is finished in the oven. If refrigerated, bring back to room temperature and bake on a cookie sheet for about 30 minutes in a 425F oven until heated through and lightly browned on top. Do not try to keep the cooked gratin in a warm oven for more than 10 to 15 minutes, or the pasta will swell up in the liquid and become gooey.
I Heart Cooking Clubs
Theme: Bonjour Jacque Pepin


  1. I have loved Jacques Pepin's cooking for as long as I can remember. This is NOT a low-fat dinner, and I don't care! I adore gratins, and this looks fantastic. I'm not the biggest fan of ham, so I didn't bake one for Easter. However, I have no doubt I could substitute Canadian bacon, instead, and that is one that I do love. Excellent and drool worthy recipe, Kim!

  2. The French know how to eat..Simple ingredients and high on flavor. Love this recipe. I used to watch pepn when he did his TV show with his daughter Claudette.

    Looking forward to following along with you on your Pepin journey,

    Happy spring!


  3. Homey and delicious--love those brown and crispy bits. Perfect for spring and a great way to welcome Jacques. This is going to be a great six months. ;-)

  4. This is comfort food at its best. Well done.

  5. Kim, I'm bookmarking this! Gratin - the best dish to tempt my two boys (hubby and son) to eat more homecooked food! :D

  6. This look divine Kim! Well done for completing the Chef Jacques Pepin challenge at IHCC;
    a newbie :)
    Joanne What's On The List

  7. I am inspired by this one, Kim. I have to make it soon! Using leftovers and creating new dishes is something I try and do. This would be wonderful for a lunch in our dreary rainy weather today.

  8. Love your "time to break out the butter and Champagne"! Your food looks amazing!

  9. Pasta always work, this looks absolutely delicious!

  10. Wow, this looks really delicious! I know my two kids would love this!
    It is going to be a delicious 6 months!

  11. I'm pretty sure you can't beat a big cheesy pasta bake like this. It's just too good!


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