A simple, cheesy dish from Every Night Italian. The arborio rice gives this a lucious texture. I used grated mozzarella from a bag and it was just fine.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Fill a pot with 3 qts of water and bring to a boil; add rice and stir well.
- Cook covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is cooked but still firm to the bite.
- Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss the rice with a bit of butter to prevent grains from sticking together.
- While the rice is cooking, make a bechamel sauce. Heat the milk till you can see steam rising (do not boil). Melt the 4 T butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat.
- Add the flour and whisk till smooth. Add the hot milk a few tablespoons at a time at first, whisking till mixture is smooth before adding more milk.
- It will likely be very thick at first, but will become thinner as you whisk in more milk. As it thins, you can mix in more milk at a time.
- Cook, whisking constantly over medium low heat till sauce thickly coats the whisk. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
- Pour the bechamel sauce over the rice, reserving a few spoonfuls for the top of the casserole. Add the ham and all but 2 T of the parmigiano-reggiano.
- Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Butter the bottom and sides of a 2 1/2 qt baking dish that is about 3 1/2 inches deep.
- Pour in half the rice mixture. Slice the mozzarella about 1/8 inch thick and layer the slices over the rice.
- Add the remaining rice mixture and smooth the surface with a spoon.
- Spread the remaining bechamel over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 2 T parmegiano-reggiano.
- Bake for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes, the top is not speckled with brown, place the casserole under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or till top begins to brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to settle for about 5 minutes before serving.