Truffled Mac and Cheese
If you see this upmarket version of the classic American comfort food on a restaurant menu, chances are it will have been made using truffle oil. Good as that may be, it can’t match the heady aroma and sumptuous flavour of the freshly shaved article. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a summer truffle, go the whole hog and shave (or grate, see note below) it over the top of the baked pasta when it comes out of the oven, and then more on top of each plateful as you dish up.
The foundation of a good macaroni cheese is its sauce: ours is a mixture of nutty Comté and mature Cheddar, topped with Parmesan. With a crisp green salad and a glass of wine, this is an utterly decadent dinner.
- 850ml whole milk
- 1 summer truffle, of a fairly decent size (about 20g)
- 400g dried rigatoni, penne or any tubular pasta shape
- 80g unsalted butter
- 80g plain flour
- 80g Comté, grated
- 80g mature cheddar, grated
- Half teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring almost to the boil, then remove from the heat.
- Shave or a grate a small amount (three or four shavings, or a teaspoon of grated) of truffle into the milk. Cover the pan and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Set a large pan of water over a high heat and bring to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt, then add the dried pasta. Stir well and simmer the pasta until al dente, as directed on the packet. Drain the pasta in a colander, then rinse it briefly under cold running water and leave it to drain while you make the sauce.
- Set a pan over a low heat and add the butter. When it is melted, stir in the flour to make a paste and cook gently for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. Gradually whisk in the warm infused milk, until you have a smooth, thickened consistency. Keeping the heat low, bring the sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Let the sauce bubble gently for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the grated Comté, Cheddar and the cayenne pepper and whisk until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Tip the cooled cooked pasta into the sauce and stir well to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and scatter with the Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25–30 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
Remove the dish from the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes before shaving or grating the remains of the summer truffle all over the top (be really generous!). Serve immediately.
You don’t need to buy a special truffle shaver: many truffle aficionados believe that grating the fungi actually brings out more of their flavour.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK