I’ve been waiting to post this one for a while now. I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag yet.
I don’t share all that much about my personal life on this blog. It’s about the food for me. But, I feel strongly about this one, so I figured I would share it with all of you, my friends through the internet.
Some of you may know that I had been traveling cross country the past few months, interviewing at several different places for my final, real, grown-up job. Hectic? Just a smidge. After going through all this training (ahem, student loans galore….), I wanted to make the right decision when it came to finally settling down somewhere for a while. Get my roots, you know? And after some pretty extensive turmoil over the past four years or so of my life, I was ready to finally go ahead and get my big girl pants on….find a job…negotiate a contract…uproot myself (again) on my own (with a package deal of one fat orange cat, one petite and prissy black cat, and one lovable, sweet sweet boxer..) and start the next phase of my life.
And, so I did. I’m moving to Milwaukee, friends! So, starting in July, expect a lot more recipes that call for beer and/or cheese. I’m going to a great practice with great people, and I will get to do my dream job…everyday. It’s rare that opportunities like this come up for people in my field, so I am running with one.
To celebrate, I wanted to share a recipe with cheese. Lots of it. Something comforting. Something rewarding. I indulged at the market with the truffle oil. I had passed by the white truffle oils several times, giving them a sideways glance and wondering what all the fuss was about. And, as in fuss, I mean a small bottle costing nearly $20. My grocery bills are exorbitant enough for one person (I mean, sometimes it’s seriously embarrassing with the amount of food I bring home..for one person.) so I never went for it. But, with the contract officially signed and sent off now, I figured I should celebrate. So I bought the big bottle. Big girl (fancy) pants, right?
A few things about this recipe: I think I may have used a little too much truffle oil, so I am tweaking the recipe here for you. The flavor is great..it’s a little hard to describe: earthy, savory, a little salty…but definitely fancy. I also used Dijon mustard in the original recipe, but I would also omit this as well the next time I make this (so I omitted it for you here). The cheese combination melted beautifully. I used the panko because I prefer that over bread crumbs any day, but feel free to use whatever topping you like. I decided to broil the mac and cheese instead of baking it because I prefer the texture of a creamy stove-top-like one over a baked version.
And so what did I do? I poured myself a nice glass of wine, made a side salad, ate something totally unhealthy for dessert, and enjoyed this fancy-pants mac and cheese to celebrate my new transition into being a grown-up.
White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
Servings: approximately 8
1 cup panko
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1-2 tablespoons white truffle oil (to taste)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups half and half
8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces elbow macaroni (or your personal favorite type of pasta)
Green onions, chopped, for garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (this is considered broiling). Generously spray a 2.5-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan and 1 tablespoon white truffle oil (if using less white truffle oil overall, use about 1/2 tablespoon here), mixing until combined.
3. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. (If you are short on time, it might be helpful at this point to get your water boiling for the macaroni.)
4. Add the flour and whisk continuously until the mixture forms a thick paste, about a minute or so.
5. Slowly whisk in the half and half until smooth (some lumps may remain-that’s ok).
6. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
7. Using a wooden spoon, slowly add the cheeses and stir until completely melted.
8. Add the remaining truffle oil and salt and pepper, to taste.
9. Meanwhile, cook the macaroni as directed on the package. Once cooked, drain the pasta and add it to the cheese sauce.
10. Evenly distribute the macaroni into the prepared casserole dish and top with the panko mixture.
11. Broil until the panko topping is lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. (Watch it carefully so that it doesn’t burn!) Top with green onions (if using) and serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from Leites Culinaria.