- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
- 1 finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes, crushed, with juice
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 1/2 cups finely grated pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add the ground chuck, chopped onion, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring, until meat has browned and the onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaf, and cinnamon, and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until sauce is thick and flavorful.
- While the sauce is simmering, make the bÈchamel sauce. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of the remaining butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Do not allow the flour to brown. Little by little add the milk, whisking constantly. Cook the mixture until the sauce thickens and comes to a boil. Allow the sauce to boil gently for about 5 minutes, until very thick. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the white pepper, nutmeg, and eggs, and whisk to combine. Set aside, covered, until ready to assemble the casserole.
- Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan according to package directions and drain in a colander set in the sink.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat the oven to 350?F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch casserole with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Transfer half of the cooked macaroni to the prepared casserole and top with half of the meat sauce. Repeat with the remaining macaroni and remaining meat sauce. Carefully spoon the bÈchamel over the meat sauce, using the back of a spoon to spread it so that it completely covers the sauce.
- Spread the grated cheese evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cheese is golden brown on top.
- Using oven mitts or pot holders, remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.