Rainy days, chilly temps, and the most perfect pasta...

     Today in Dallas we are having the kind of day that makes you want to stay in and nest, snuggle with your pups, curl up to the fire with a glass of great Pinot, and eat some major comfort food...

Turn on Bravo, pour a glass of vino, and get ready to make your muffin happy, because this pasta is worth the 5 miles you will have to run tomorrow!  The pasta du jour is from Giada De Laurentiis, who let's face it makes a pretty amazing tortellini, and she also makes the best Baked Rigatoni with Bechamel Sauce...for real people.  It is like a decadent fancy schmancy mac and cheese situation.  Oh, and it's got a hot mess of butter and cheese in it so really, it's kind of a no brainer...

Bechamel Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 and 2 T all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, at room temperature
Fresh nutmeg (Giada uses a pinch, I used more like 1/2 tsp, cuz it's sooooo good in there)
Sea salt (OK I used Kosher)
White pepper (which I didn't have so whatev on that spice, not a deal breaker)
1 cup fontina cheese grated (grate more than this because if you are like me you will eat half of it while you're cooking
Thinly sliced prosciutto, julienned (Giada says 1/2 pound, I think this is a wee too much)
1 pound dry rigatoni
3 T unsalted butter

Topping for Rigatoni
OK this is where I went all rogue and did my own thing.  
Panko bread crumbs-1/2-3/4 cup
Parmesan cheese (the good stuff please, none of that shaker nonsense)-1/2 cupish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Get ready to make your once pretty kitchen a mess of pots and pans, spoons, whisks, and ingredients...because that is how the magic happens people...

Get yourself organized right from the beginning...it helps with the mess that is soon to follow!
Begin by crisping up your prosciutto (Giada just puts in the prosciutto without crisping it up, but I like the consistency better cooking it a bit)

Bechamel Sauce
In a 2 quart saucepan melt one stick of butter...yummy..
Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes, make sure to stir!
Add 1 quart of milk gradually and continue to whisk until sauce is smooth and creamy.  Simmer until it is think enough (while stirring!) to coat the back of spoon...took me 7 minutes on a gas stove, could take about 10 though...
Remove from heat and add in fontina, nutmeg, prosciutto and season with salt and white pepper (well at least I did the salt)

In a large pot bring to boil 6 quarts of water.  Add a good amount of salt and rigatoni for 5-7 minutes, undercooking it because it will go into the oven for a time and nobody wants overcooked rigatoni...

Grease a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish and poor the cooked pasta and sauce into the dish and mix.

Mix together panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Poor over pasta and add 3 T of butter chipped over the top of the crumb mixture.  You can add a bit more fontina on top too...hey, I mean go for it!
Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is golden...and delish!
And ta da...
Snuggle up by the fire and watch Rachel Zoe,  and eat a plateful of yumminess... 

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