This macaroni and cheese has been on my “to make” for years, since seeing a rendition of it on Top Chef Season 1. Dave made it, and I remember just being in awe of black truffles as an ingredient. I’d had black and white truffle oil, and loved the flavor it lent to dishes. But, a whole black truffle? I figured that I’d never have a chance to use them in my kitchen.
Then a few years after that, I discovered Wegmans. If you don’t know what they are (they are regional), it’s a high-end grocery store where you can find pretty much anything. Including fresh black truffles…just hanging out in the produce department like it ain’t no thang! Whenever I visited the store, I’d gawk over them – but due to the high price tag I was afraid to buy one. How much did one weigh? What if I got up there and it was $500? That’s definitely too rich for my blood…
I went ahead and took the plunge a couple weeks ago when my girlfriend and I visited a huge craft fair in the mountains at Thurmont, MD. Came home with all kinds of goodies – apples, fresh pressed cider, and one black truffle. It cost me $15.00 for one pretty good-sized truffle. While expensive, definitely do-able as a treat once in a while. Was thinking I might like to try infusing my own truffle oil at some point!
So, the macaroni and cheese I’d been dreaming about for 7 years finally transpired. And it was worth the wait. Rich and earthy, yet not overpowering. The combination of white cheddar and Gruyere is a great combo that adds plenty of cheesy flavor, but still lets the truffles shine. Black truffle butter is easier to find than whole truffles, and more affordable. That in combination with a drizzle of the truffle oil would be a good substitution. Or really this macaroni and cheese is delicious on it’s own – with no truffles!
But, it’s getting to be that special time of year where we love to splurge to make a meal a little fancier, or the ingredients a little more special for the Holidays. My mom always called it “the horn of plenty”, and it’s something that I look forward to every year. Can you guys believe it’s November already? Where has this year gone?
Black Truffle Macaroni & Cheese
8 ounces elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1/2 white onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles
8 ounces sharp aged white cheddar, shredded
5 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
1 ounce parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp truffle oil (black or white)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
sliced fresh black truffles for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni to al dente (approximately 7 minutes). Strain and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan.
While the macaroni is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Continue to cook over low heat for 4 minutes stirring constantly. Add the milk, chopped truffles, onion and bay leaf. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Turn off the heat and add 3/4 of the aged cheddar and all of the other cheeses. Add mustard and truffle oil as well. Season with salt and black pepper and fold in macaroni. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheddar.
Top with remaining shaved truffles. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven let stand for about 5 minutes.
Source: adapted from Wolfgang Puck