Aired July 27, 2011
10 to 12 slices white bread 1-inch thick (stale is not only fine but preferred)
3 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, pork and veal or chopped crimini mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup tomato paste
A few grates of nutmeg
A pinch of cloves
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup whole milk
1/2 pound Fontina Val D'Aosta cheese or other easy-melting Italian cheese
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano
Grease a casserole dish with EVOO or butter and preheat oven to 400F. Arrange bread slices in a casserole dish in a tight-fitting layer.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, in a saucepot over medium-high heat. Add meat or mushrooms and brown well. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and season with salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cook to soften then add tomato paste, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in stock and bring to a bubble. Add milk and simmer 30 minutes to thicken.
Spoon sauce over bread and top with cheese. Bake 30 minutes until cheese is melted and brown. Serve in shallow bowls with sauteed kale or dark greens salad alongside.