Two weeks ago several of my coworkers and I competed in a mac and cheese bake-off at work. We all chose a mac and cheese recipe we've been wanting to try, made it at home and brought it in for a lunchtime judging. Since I was cooking for co-workers, I took the liberty of making a mushroom-filled recipe since my mac-loving husband hates mushrooms and wouldn't touch this with a ten foot fork. While I personally did not think my recipe was the best of the bunch (this was my favorite), it was well received by the judging panel and some of my coworkers later told me it was their personal favorite. I followed Ina's recipe with a few modifications so if you are a 'shroom lover, give this one a try!
Cast of Characters:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Olive oil
- 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced
- 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced
- 3 tablespoons sherry (cream sherry is called for, I used plain sherry)
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound pasta (I used fusilli)
- 3 ounces white truffle butter (I couldn't find this anywhere so I used 2 tbsp of unsalted butter in lieu of it. If you have truffle oil you could add some to the butter to infuse the truffle flavor into the butter.)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used slightly over 1/3 cup)
- 1 quart whole milk, scalded
- 4 cups grated Gruyere cheese
- 2 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped (I used 4 because I love garlic)
- Freshly chopped parsley (I used 1/3 a bunch)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (I used half a French baguette since I had a fresh one)
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a dash of olive oil and salt to your pot. Cook your pasta 6-8 minutes, or until al dente. Drain well.
2. In a large skillet, combine 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of olive oil with the mushrooms and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the sherry to the skillet and continue cooking the mushrooms until the sherry is absorbed. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat your milk on a burner or in the microwave.
3. In a second skillet, melt the truffle butter (or regular butter) over low heat, whisk in the flour and cook for roughly 2 minutes. Whisk in the hot milk and continue stirring until thick and creamy (the sauce should cover the back of a wooden spoon.) Take skillet off the heat and stir in cheeses, 1 1/2 tbsp of salt, pepper to taste (I went heavy) and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. You've now completed your bechamel sauce.
4. Moving quickly, combine the pasta, mushrooms and bechamel sauce together in a baking dish.
|This is pre-sauce.|
5. In a blender combine parsley, garlic and bread and pulse until combined. Spread the crumb mixture over the top of pasta, mushrooms and sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes until sauce is bubbling and bread crumbs are golden brown.
This recipe makes a rich, creamy macaroni and cheese that smells absolutely unbelievable! The mushrooms add tons of flavor and the crunchy herbacious top adds yet another different texture and flavor. I can't imagine how good this would be with the truffle butter and cream sherry. Mmm, eat up, it makes tons!