Gesuiti - or Italian cheese, mushroom & ham pancake bake

Gesuiti - or Italian cheese, mushroom & ham pancake bake

Gesuiti come from the Ascoli Piceno province, in particular the countryside behind the port of San Benedetto del Tronto. We think some Jesuit monks invented, but if you know better please tell me! It is is a multi component dish which takes a bit of time, but it freezes well so you could scale up and do several, as Katia does.

Béchamel Sauce:

50g butter 500ml whole milk ½ teaspoon salt 50g plain flour nutmeg

Use a saucepan to warm the butter and milk together. Once it’s hot but not boiling, add the salt and slowly whisk the flour into the milk. Keep whisking until it has thickened. Scrape a little bit of nutmeg into the sauce. Keep warm


100g plain flour 2 large free range eggs, beaten 300 whole milk 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter pinch of salt Vegetable oil for frying

Heat a 24 centimetre frying pan until it’s thoroughly hot, but not smoking

While it’s heating, place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz them into a smooth batter, which should have the consistency of single cream.

Brush the pan with a small amount of oil; use a kitchen towel to wipe away any excess.

Ladle about 50ml of batter into the pan and swirl it around to cover the base. Add more if necessary, or tip out the excess. When you see bubbles forming in the surface and the edges curl slightly away from the pan, use a spatula to turn the pancake over. It will only need about another 30 seconds. Your first one will always be a dud!

This quantity makes about 8 pancakes. How many you need depends on the size of your baking dish, which for Katia was 20x30cms.

Cheese filling

100g finely chopped ham (prosciutto cotto) 100g sliced mushrooms, fried in a little butter, drained of juices 100g grated emmental cheese 100g grated fontina cheese Remove 20g of the cheese before mixing the ingredients – this is to be scattered over the top of the final layer

To assemble and cook:

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas mark 4

Grease your gratin dish. Use four overlapping pancakes to line the bottom, making sure there is overhang.

Cover this layer with some béchamel sauce, followed by half of the filling mixture. Add a pancake (which should cover everything) on top, followed by more sauce and the rest of the filling.

Add another pancake. Fold the overhanging edges of the pancakes over the top and cover this layer with a generous amount sauce, followed by a final scattering of cheese. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden and everything is merrily bubbling.

All this needs is a green salad.