Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mushroom Herb Mac N' Cheese

I was recently asked if I had to choose between pasta, rice, or potatoes which one do I enjoy more.  Simply answer: pasta.  I LOVE pasta. Its so versatile and delicious.  Ok, so its a personal preference but let me ask you this:  Do you like Mac n' Cheese?  If your answer is "no" then we may have some serious problems.  If your answer is "yes" then please proceed reading.  

I find the satisfaction level of a mac n' cheese similar to the craving/satisfaction level of donuts. Let me clarify.  If you're craving a glazed donut, a powdered one isn't going to satisfy. The same logic goes towards mac n' cheese. If your craving brand name shells and cheese then this gourmet version may not fulfill your taste buds.  However, for a sunday dinner, this mac n' cheese is a must-have.  

Fresh herbs, mushrooms, and two kinds of cheese round out this pasta.  The original recipe called for white cheddar and gruyere cheeses.  Now I'm all over some white cheddar cheese but HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF GRUYERE?!?  Holy mackerel!! My idea of budgeting is putting my foot down on a $15 small block of cheese for Macaroni!  Needless to say, I substituted the gruyere for a delicious smoked gouda.

Oh, and even though the recipe is called "Mac N' Cheese", I didn't use macaroni pasta.  If your a by-the-book kind of cook, knock yourself out with some macaroni.  Personally, I like to use different pasta shapes. 

Last but not least, don't leave out the nutmeg.

Mushroom Herb Mac N' Cheese
Recipe adapted from Annies Eats

1 lb. pasta shapes
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 lb. cremini (baby bella mushrooms), roughly chopped
1 shallot, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
2 tsp. fresh basil, minced
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 cups whole milk
6 oz. (1½ cups) shredded Gruyere cheese (I used Smoked Gouda)
6 oz. (1½ cups) shredded white cheddar cheese
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Grease a 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions, just until al dente.  Drain the pasta, return to the pot, and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped mushrooms and shallots to the pan and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated from the pan, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, just until fragrant.  Remove the pan from the heat, season the mixture with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.  Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden.  Stir in the fresh herbs and cook for 30 seconds, just until fragrant.  Whisk in the milk and cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the mixture simmers and begins to thicken.  Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat and add nutmeg.  Whisk in the shredded Gruyere and cheddar cheeses until completely melted and smooth.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta.  Add the mushroom and shallot mixture to the pot as well.  Toss well to thoroughly combine.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.  In a small bowl combine the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, melted.  Toss with fork to coat the crumbs evenly.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Julie said...

I love, love, love pasta! Smoked gouda is one of my favorite cheeses. Can't wait to try this, it looks so good.

Bryan said...

I would have to go with pasta too! The other starches are great but pasta well... this looks great and I have always loves smoked gouda

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