A quick recipe to peruse or try out ... I made this for a group of Rose's friends when she had about 10 of them over before a scavenger hunt. It was a big hit and I still get comments occasionally from the kids when they drop by. Anyone who knows teenagers knows how rare that is!
My only comment is that something separated or rendered a lot of oil in the bottom of the casserole after baking. Perhaps making the sauce with milk instead of cream (which seemed overdoing it at the time but I followed the recipe. That is the only troubleshooting though ...
From Perfect Party Food by Diane Phillips.
Serves 10 as a side dish
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream (I will use whole milk in the future)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Salt (optional) to taste
1 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions until al dente and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 strips bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, coked until crisp, and drained on paper towels (app. 3/4 pound)
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and thyme, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is cooked, but hasn't turned color, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and broth and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Stir in 1 cup of the Parmesan and season with pepper and with salt if desired.
Coat a 13x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the remaining Parmesan over the bottom. In a large bowl, toss the hot penne with the olive oil.
Stir the sauce into the penne, then stir in the bacon and mozzarella. Transfer to the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
Diva Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the penne until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.