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Monday, October 24, 2011

Sniffing for Truffles

I am not a huge fan of truffles.  Some people might say that they have an "earthy" taste.  I think they taste a little like dirt.  Blame it on a lack of sophistication, but I like my food to taste clean.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered truffle butter.  It has a richness that doesn't taste dirty and is a really lovely ingredient in Ina Garten's macaroni and cheese.

Ina's Truffle Mac and Cheese isn't your average macaroni and cheese.  First of all, there's a pound of mushrooms, lightly sauteed in the truffle butter and olive oil.  Then there's the rich white sauce oozing with yummy gruyere and sharp cheddar.  Need I say more?

This is macaroni and cheese on steroids.  It's also fattening as all get out.  This recipe makes a lot and freezes well so you don't have to feel compelled to finish it off in one sitting.  Besides, what could be better than having something decadent waiting for you in the freezer.  Now, that's sophisticated.

Ready for the oven.

Recipe:  Truffled Mac and Cheese
(Ina Garten)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Good olive oil
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced 1/2-inch
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced 1/2-inch
3 tablespoons cream sherry
Kosher salt
1 pound pasta, such as cavatappi
3 ounces white truffle butter (recommended: D'Artagnan)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, scalded
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan, add the mushrooms, and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are tender. Add the sherry and continue to saute for a few more minutes, until the sherry is absorbed. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile, melt the truffle butter in a large (4-quart) saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the white sauce is thickened and creamy. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt, the pepper, and nutmeg.

Combine the pasta, sauce, and mushrooms in a large bowl and pour them into a 10 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish.

Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until they're minced. Add the bread crumbs and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the crumbs over the pasta and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown. Serve hot.

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