21 November 2015

Truffled Macaroni Cheese

I deeply and truly love cheese. I love it. A few years ago my doctor told me I should stop eating hard cheeses because of my cholesterol levels. I'd rather go happy than give up cheese. I've complained before about the lack of cheese variety (particularly the lack of not dyed or insanely expensive cheddar) so I won't do that again.

That's like 7 cups of cheese. It was beautiful.

I recently came back from the States and brought three suitcases full, largely, of groceries. There were about six pounds of pork products and probably eight or more of cheeses. I went to both Michigan and DC while I was in the US and on my DC leg Lauren took my to Trader Joe's.

Oh Trader Joe. I think I miss you the most.

I really only mean to buy the Italian truffle cheese. But then there was the raw milk cheddar, the port sault, the apricot Stilton, and something I've never seen there before...truffle cheddar. Those (some Manchego, roasted garlic cheddar, and several more pounds of extra sharp white cheddar) came home with me.

As much as I would love to savor them slowly over time, cheese doesn't really freeze well. Technically it freezes just fine, its the thawing when things go wrong. So when you have a surplus of cheeses that don't have a long shelf life and need to be consumed pretty quickly what do you do? Make macaroni cheese.

Adding the pasta to the bechamel.

But not just any macaroni cheese. When you have Italian truffle cheese that's going bad fast you really just need to fully commit to truffle macaroni cheese. It's worth the extra effort and expense. The night I made this I was a béchamel genius. I was a hero.


For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons truffle oil
  • 2 cups panko flakes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan 
For macaroni:
  • 1 pound noodles (shells, elbow, etc)
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 cups grated cheddar*
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Truffle salt
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle of oven. Butter the baking dish**. Set a large, covered pot of salted water over high heat to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil until butter foam subsides. Add panko and garlic; cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer crumbs to a medium bowl, stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan and salt, and set aside.
  3. Add macaroni to boiling salted water and cook until just al dente (avoid overcooking). Drain macaroni and set aside. 
  4. In a large wide pot over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle flour over butter, whisking to incorporate and make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until roux is light golden, about 4 minutes. Gradually pour in milk and cream, whisking constantly to incorporate and make a béchamel sauce. Raise heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until béchamel sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more. 
  5. Add the salt, pepper, and truffle salt. Add the cheeses in three batches, whisking until each addition is completely melted before adding more. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the drained macaroni to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir well to coat. Transfer macaroni mixture to the buttered baking dish and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle topping evenly over macaroni and bake until golden and bubbling, 18 to 23 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.
*I used a combination of Turkish gruyere, Italian truffle cheese, and raw milk cheddar.

** Or go the extra step and use truffle oil!

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