All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014
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This is the second installment of my mac & cheese hat trick. Easy & THIS one was the crowd pleaser of the three. The other day I posted Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen just above. I kinda liked that one the best but this one is simple & elegant. Just do not be heavy-handed with the truffle oil because it gets overpowering quickly, Also – be sure it is not old – because it goes rancid faster than most oils or, maybe because you typically use it sparingly, it just sits around past its shelf life but be sure to sniff it before using it.
Here is the mint & zucchini mac & cheese!
Again – I cooked these for a birthday party (the three versions) and did not photograph them out of the oven. The photos in ramekins were taken the following day as I reheated leftovers. You could cook yours in a casserole pan or in ramekins. Either way, it still tastes delicious!
Without further ado – I present my Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko!
Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko
1 lb pasta – cooked, drained & cooled under running water
12 oz smoked Gouda – grated
2 cups mozzarella – grated
A few tsp truffle oil (black or white) used in a quantity to suit you particular tolerance of the flavor
1 TBS Dijon
4 cups milk
4 TBS butter
4 TBS flour
1-2 cups panko
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook & cool the pasta. Drizzle about 1 tsp truffle oil on it & stir it in. Set aside.
Warm the milk.
In another pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & then add the flour. Whisk constantly & it should bet thick pretty fast. Heat it until it starts to turn a golden sandy color. Then, reserving ONE CUP of the milk to the side for later, add the remaining 3 cups of milk 1/2 cup at a time, whisking the whole time, until all the milk is incorporated & it is sorta thick – but still pourable.
Whisk in the Dijon and a tsp of truffle oil. Taste it & decide whether you think it could use more truffle oil. I did not add more here – but you can if you like. All truffle oil is not created equal & some may be stronger than others & the amount required is a matter of personal preference. Add S&P.
Now add the smoked Gouda & the mozzarella. When the cheese is all melted & incorporated, mix in the pasta. Taste it. Does it need more truffle oil? You decide but try to go light with it.
At this point, I felt my pasta was too dry & might get ruined in the oven so I stirred in the remaining cup of milk. This is also a judgement call. I like wetter mac & cheese – others like it drier. Use your judgement. The top picture is before I added milk & the next shows what it looked like with a cup of milk added.
The truffle mac & cheese is above on the right.
Treat a casserole pan or a bunch of ramekins with cooking spray & put the pasta in. Top with panko. I sprayed the panko with cooking spray. It helps add some crunch to the breadcrumbs.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until it is all melty & the panko is beginning to brown.
Serve with additional truffle oil on the table so folks can add more if they like a heavy truffle flavor.