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This earthy decadent Truffle Mac and Cheese is a mushroom lover's dream. It's easier than you think and can be made ahead- perfect for holidays and gatherings.

Truffle Mac and Cheese

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Description

This earthy decadent Truffle Mac and Cheese is a mushroom lover’s dream. It’s easier than you think and can be made ahead- perfect for holidays and gatherings.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 16 ounces pasta- small shell or elbow (see notes)

Sauteed Mushrooms 

  • 1216 ounces mushrooms- cremini, shiitake, oyster, chanterelle, porcini, maitake, sliced or torn.
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme (divided) or sub 1 tablespoon dry thyme

Truffle Cheese Sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter (or sub-olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 cups whole milk (or sub 1/2 and 1/2 and water, or soy milk)
  • 8 ounces gruyere- or white cheddar ( or a mix, about 3 cups shredded) please see notes.
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard ( or sub-yellow mustard powder)
  • pinch nutmeg
  • Truffle oil to taste 1-3 tablespoons

Crispy Topping 

Optional: 2 handfuls chopped spinach 


Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to the directions on the package. Cook to al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water, and place this back in the same pot, and coat with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. 

Saute Mushrooms: Simultaneously, saute the mushrooms and onions in an extra-large skillet with olive oil, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Season them with salt and pepper and add 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dry).

Crispy Topping:  In a small bowl, mix the panko with ¼ cup pecorino cheese, and olive oil (or use more truffle oil) and remaining thyme.

Make the creamy truffle cheese sauce (You can do this also at the same time if you feel confident). Heat butter over medium heat and let it get golden (like brown butter) lower heat if need be. Once it smells deliciously nutty, whisk in the flour and cook for one minute. Add 1 cup of milk, and whisk over medium heat until it thickens noticeably. Whisk in remaining milk, and continue to heat, whisking often to almost a simmer,stirring so the bottom doesn’t burn. Once hot, lower heat to low- stir in the gruyere cheese, pecorino, salt, pepper, dijon and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme ( or 1 teaspoon dry). Whisk until the cheese is completely incorporated and you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Turn off the heat and stir in truffle oil to taste. As all are different, start conservatively adding more as you like. Adjust salt- you want this to taste rich and slightly salty as the pasta will soak much of this up. 

Combine: Pour the creamy Truffle Cheese Sauce over the drained pasta in the pot. Stir in 2/3rds  of the sauteed mushrooms (saving some for the top). Stir in a handful or two of chopped spinach if you like-somehow this always makes me feel better- up to you. 😉

Taste. Adjust salt, pepper and truffle oil.  

Assemble: Pour into a buttered 9 x13-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with the panko mixture. 

Bake uncovered in a 375F oven for 15 minutes, add remaining mushrooms to the top, and continue baking until bubbly and golden, another 10-15 minutes. 


Notes

If you like extra creamy Mac and cheese, reduce the pasta down to 12-14 ounces (versus the full pound).

Pre-grated cheese often contains anti-caking agents which can make the bechamel sauce grainy. I grated the gruyere in my food processor and the pecorino in the picture was freshly grated by our local market. 

If making this vegan– to add more depth to the truffle cream sauce, consider adding miso paste, nutritional yeast or mushroom powder. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 577
  • Sugar: 9.5 g
  • Sodium: 628.5 mg
  • Fat: 27.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 13.2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 59.7 g
  • Fiber: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Cholesterol: 64.2 mg