This week I decided to make something with a pack of “hiromeri” that had been sitting in my fridge for a while. Hiromeri is a type of Cyprus smoked ham. More specifically, it is pork ham that has been salted and marinated in red wine and seasoned before being pressed under heavy weights and finally smoked. It is actually very good for low carbohydrate and low fat diets because the pork leg is cleaned from excess fat and veins before it is smoked, so it is a lean meat. It is dry in texture, salty and pretty aromatic. You can enjoy it with beer or wine. I decided to make a parmesan-hiromeni pasta bake this week. I like the recipe because it is fairly easy to make, and pretty yummy by all accounts. It’s good to make for friends, and for families. And definitely add the red pepper flakes, it balances the cheese flavour out quite nicely.
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
8 tbs butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole or goats milk
2 1/2 cups coarsely grated mature cheddar cheese
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
225g mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
450g conchiglie rigate (or any large round pasta)
salt & pepper to taste
1. Melt 1 tbs butter in large deep pan over medium-high heat. Add hiromeri and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add onion; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and stir for 1 minute.
2. Add in 3 tbs butter and allow to melt. Add flour and stir 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 3 1/2 cups milk. Simmer the mixture until it is thick enough to coat spoon thickly, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses. Stir in more milk by 1/4 cupfuls until sauce is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 176C. Lightly butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just undercooked. Drain well. Return pasta to pot. Add warm cheese sauce and toss to coat the pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.