Thursday, July 26, 2012

Truffle mac n' cheese

mac n cheese on vintage scale
savor
mac n cheese with grilled chicken breast
Is it strange to prefer side dishes over the main entree? For the most part, I find sides tastier and more versatile because they're habitually veggies or starches. Especially when mac n' cheese is in the picture. I confess that the steamy, savory, cheesy pasta is my weakness, despite my inclination towards a relatively healthy diet. The Mister prefers the packaged version from a box over authentic mac n' cheesiness, but when I get a chance, I am prone to baking a colossal casserole dish of mac n' cheese because it is always a guaranteed crowd pleaser. I started making mac n' cheese from a recipe I unearthed in a newspaper clipping long ago, and have adapted it over the years, particularly to include garlic, shallots, and truffle oil in a three-cheese sauce, which I believe gives the classic American dish an aromatic spin that makes eating it all the more enjoyable. I think shell pasta captures the cheese sauce's tastiness better, but my momma gave us a few bags of small elbow macaroni recently, so I've been using that pasta instead. The recipe's secondary cheeses can be substituted; I recommend sharp ones like Gruyere or Pecorino Romano. Though mac n' cheese is customarily eaten as a side dish, I devour it as a main entree, as you can tell from the disproportionate portion sizes in the photo above. We had mac n' cheese with chicken breasts that I marinated really quickly before throwing it to grill on the skillet, which complements the creamy, comforting, cheesy creation just fine.
grilled chicken
mac n cheese close up
Truffle Mac n' Cheese

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup shallot, minced
5 1/2 cups fat-free milk, heated until hot
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup white truffle oil
4 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Colby/Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni or shells
1/3 cup whole wheat crackers, crushed (I used Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Wheat Crisps)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Boil macaroni or shells until al dente and drain, rinsing with cold water. Melt butter and extra virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat. When butter and olive oil bubble, add garlic and shallot, cooking for about 2 minutes. Stir in truffle oil and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.
2. Add flour into mixture and whisk constantly to cook, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens.
3. Remove pan from the heat. Stir in sea salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups Cheddar, 1 cup Colby/Monterey Jack, and 1 cup Parmesan until melted. Set cheese sauce aside.
4. Stir pasta into the reserved cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups Cheddar and crushed wheat cracker crumbs on top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes.

5 comments:

  1. Looks delicious, and sounds so from the recipe!

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  2. you should try it with emmantaler & bechamel!

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  3. loveee itttt. def gonna try some of these after I get married. haha. maybe before for practice :P

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