12 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 cups whole milk, + 1/4 cup warmed until hot
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 lb cooked ground beef (seasoned with salt, pepper, fresh garlic, and a dash of cinnamon)
3/4 lb cooked penne pasta, cooked al dente
To make the béchamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the 6 cups of the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the seasonings. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl add the cooked penne pasta. Add 3 cups of the béchamel and 1/4 cup milk. Stir until the sauce coats all the pasta. Add half the penne to a buttered baking dish. Add the cooked ground beef. Top with the remaining béchamel. Bake in a 12x8x2.5 baking pan (we used this Staub cast iron pan) for 30-40 minutes or until the top is golden brown (you want to keep an eye on it the last 10 minutes so the top doesn’t burn). Let cool slightly.