Nothing screams comfort to me than a plate full of rich, creamy, macaroni and cheese. It’s consistently ranked high on people’s comfort food lists, and for a good reason too. It is super simple to make and only requires a few base ingredients: cheese, butter, milk, and pasta. But if you’re like me and have a particular aversion to neon orange coloured food, then those out-of-the-box or instant mac and cheese stuff simply won’t do. They may have been great for those dorm days but we’re adult(ish) now so why not upgrade our mac and cheese proclivities to the good stuff.
I’ve been perfecting this mac and cheese recipe for years, and every time I experiment with different meats and veggies, but nothing beats the pure stuff. My advice is to keep it flavourful but simple; don’t overdo it with the extra ingredients.
I often don’t cook with truffle oil, just because it can be an expensive ingredient to use. While perusing through my local grocery store, I found a can of black truffle-infused olive oil for $16 CDN, and it seemed like it would make the perfect addition to this recipe. Adding truffle oil really brings out the mushroom and thyme, creating a rich, earthy flavour. If you’re really pinched, then using a good quality extra virgin olive oil is fine.
Prep Time | 10 minutes Cook Time | 45-50 minutes Yield | 6-8
1 package (375g) of elbow macaroni
2 tsp salt
4 L of water
1 tsp of butter
2 tsp of olive oil
6 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, diced
5 tbl butter
5 tbl of all-purpose flour
4 cups milk, heated (but not boiling)
1 cup cream, heated (but not boiling)
3 tbl Dijon mustard
Dash of ground nutmeg
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 tsp of garlic powder
¼ tsp dried thyme, or ½ tsp is using fresh
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp truffle oil
1 cup aged white cheddar, grated
4 tbsp panko breadcrumb
1 tbsp parmesan
Dash of thyme
Preheat oven at 350⁰F
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add macaroni and cook for 8-9 minutes until pasta is half cooked. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté the mushrooms in the butter and olive oil over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
- Make the béchamel sauce, using the same large pot used for cooking the pasta. Over medium-low heat, melt the butter then stir in the flour (a tablespoon at a time); stirring constantly until the paste cooks bubbles a bit but doesn’t brown. Slowly pour the milk in (little bit at a time), while whisking constantly. Whisk in the cream, Dijon, and the spices; bring to a boil. Once bubbling, lower the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes. The sauce should be thick and coats the back of a spoon. If you find it’s too runny, whisk in some cornstarch mixed with water. If the sauce is too thick, then dilute it with some water, a tablespoon at a time.
- Mix in truffle oil, mushrooms, and half the grated cheese to the sauce; take off of the heat. Mix in the macaroni. Pour everything into a 3 qt casserole dish, something with shallow sides – this will help cook the mac and cheese evenly and keep the shape of the macaroni. Using the back of a spoon spread everything across the casserole dish so the top is even. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top.
- In a small bowl, mix together the breadcrumb toppings. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the mac and cheese. Put it into preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Switch to boiler in the last 6 minutes of cooking, this will create a nice golden brown crust.
- Serve hot, with a drizzle of truffle oil over top.