The bomb-diggity truffled mac and cheese with maple bacon. It’s a mouthful, I know. But oh, what a delicious mouthful.
My friend Pia went to the UK some months ago and brought me back a bottle of truffle oil. I love truffle-anything so I was really excited to make something with it but only just got around to deciding that it will be mac and cheese. I dig the idea of something so luxurious in something so pedestrian.
I guess I should point out that this isn’t real truffle oil in the sense that it’s not oil that was infused with real truffles. Chefs and hardcore foodies turn their noses up at the “engineered” kind like this one but whatever, man! It tastes awesome in my mac and cheese!
I used this recipe as a guide with some minor changes so my recipe looked like this:
1 3/4 cups dried elbow macaroni
2 t truffle oil
3 T butter
1/4 cup flour
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 t salt plus more to taste
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t paprika plus more for dusting
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups gruyere
About 6 strips maple bacon
1. Preheat your oven to 190 C/375 F. Cook the dried macaroni according to package instructions and drain. I cooked mine until al dente and it turned out fine but I think I will undercook it ever so slightly next time, maybe about a minute less? Your call. When drained, toss the macaroni with truffle oil. Cover with cling wrap to avoid the pasta from drying out and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add in flour, Dijon mustard, salt, freshly ground black pepper, and paprika.
Whisk until a thick paste forms. This is called a roux (although this is a flavored one) and is the base of many sauces that have to be thickened. Whisk often and let cook for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the milk. Start with about half a cup of the milk and whisk until smooth then gradually add the rest of the milk while whisking – this way, you can avoid blobs of roux floating around. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.
A little bit about the cheese while our sauce cooks. This can be made with sharp cheddar cheese alone but I thought adding another kind of cheese would be fun, too. Gruyere is nutty and beautiful, I think it’s my favorite cheese of the moment! You know what else would be fun? A smoked cheese. Ehmergherd.
4. When the sauce thickens, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in 2 cups of the cheese until it melts. This should be legen-dairy (Seen on Twitter. Thank you, whoever you are!). Taste and add more salt if you’d like but keep in mind that there is more cheese and maple bacon coming your way.
5. Add cheese sauce into the cooked macaroni and mix well. It will seem like a LOT of cheese sauce but the macaroni will absorb some of it and it will be fine. And why are we worrying about too much cheese sauce anyway when there is no such thing?
6. And now we layer! Start with half the macaroni and sprinkle half the remaining cheese. Do this one more time and end with a dusting of paprika. Pop this in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the sauce bubbles.
I cooked up some maple bacon to garnish while this was baking. The logic being this:
This is Yellow Cab’s Dear Darla pizza with truffle honey. It’s absolutely delicious and it inspired the sweet meat candy garnish for my mac and cheese.
Don’t you wanna live in this baking dish?
I love how it’s super moist and thick and oozing with cheese flavor with a hum of earthiness from the truffle oil. But this could’ve been boring without the maple bacon. I think the maple bacon gets this out of side dish territory and elevates it to main dish level.
Because I could eat this, just this. It’s the bomb-diggity.
Fun Food Fact: Truffles are mushrooms which are believed to have started growing underground to beat forest fires, drought and severe cold. For more interesting facts on truffles, click here.