Tonight, is about the casserole. Steadily marinating at a gentle simmer, aromatic sparks of fresh herbs surround your kitchen as beef tenderises beneath a golden-brown seal of rich sauce. Slow cooked to pasta Al-dente, our recipe for your Beef Penne Bake with Creamy Béchamel is comfort food done right.
Laced with layers of butter, flavours mingle and flourish to deliver mouth-watering servings of baked penne throughout. Discover a slice of Mediterranean magic – enjoy a classic casserole favourite with a buttery twist tonight.
To make the meat sauce melt the butter in the pan and add the onion, garlic and celery and cook on a medium heat until softened. Add the beef mince and turn the heat up high until the meat starts to brown.
Add the remaining meat sauce ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes - 1 hour until the mince is tender. If it seems to be getting dry add a little water to loosen down. Season with salt and pepper.
Whilst the sauce is cooking put a pan of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the packet instructions recommend. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and to keep from sticking together.
To make the bechamel warm the milk gently in a pan until it just comes up to a boil and then remove from the heat. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour. Cook together, stirring continuously, until slightly brown in colour and smells biscuity. In stages add ladles of the milk, beating well with a wooden spoon or whisk in between each addition so there are no lumps. This will create a smooth bechamel. Once all the milk is added cook on a low heat for 5 minutes to get rid of any raw flour flavour.
Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and then add in the gruyere cheese and keep on a very low heat, stirring all the time, until the cheese is all melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the egg yolks until fully incorporated.
Now you can assemble the dish. Butter your baking dish. Mix a little of the bechamel into the pasta (this will hold the pasta together once cooked) and place into the bottom of the dish. Cover the pasta layer with all the meat sauce and flatten down. Cover with the rest of the bechamel (you want this to be a thick layer) and then dot with the feta cheese and sprinkle with the dried mint. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is browned well.