Truffle Mac and Cheese ~ a luxurious baked pasta with plenty of rich creamy sauce and an earthy flavor and aroma thanks to truffled cheese, truffle oil, and a dash of truffle salt.
What’s for dinner tonight? It’s truffle mac and cheese and I’m excited!
The other day when I was at the low point in my January ‘crud’, I made a dirty hair/slept in sweatshirt run to the grocery store because I was out of Puffs Plus Lotion (no matter what you say, toilet paper does not work.) While I was there I grabbed as many frozen dinners as I could carry, and one of them was a truffle mac and cheese that turned out to be pretty good, considering.
Feeling a little better on my next grocery run I grabbed some truffled goat cheese and some imported pasta, knowing there was white cheddar, milk, cream, truffle oil and truffle salt at home. I figured I could make a pretty good stab at recreating it and I was right.
Note: My home remedy (i.e. killing my cold with comfort food) is working! I’ll be back to healthy eating, and posting, Friday :)
A decadent baked pasta like this truffle mac and cheese calls for a voluptuous pasta, one that will embrace all that cheesy goodness with open arms. In other words, the pasta isn’t an afterthought in this dish, so be mindful when you choose yours. I have strong opinions about this, and I especially love imported Italian pasta. I picked up a bag of Montebello (est. 1388!!) Conchiglie for my dish today, the imported Italian pasta is large but delicate walled. There’s ample room in the fat hollow shape for lots of cheesy sauce ;)
I don’t usually use goat cheese in macaroni and cheese, but it as the only truffled cheese I could find, and it worked out great. I added sharp white cheddar to balance out the tang. You can really use any truffled cheese you can find in your store. You might come across truffle cheddar, pecorino, Gouda, even Brie (just be sure to remove most of the rinds, first.)
Why are truffles so expensive?
- truffles are almost impossible to cultivate and are mostly hunted in the wild. That means searching for them by hand, one by one, and they can only grow in super specific conditions.
- So assuming you aren’t in possession of any actual truffles, the best way to get truffle flavor is with good quality truffle infused cheeses, oil and salts. The flavor is surprisingly assertive.
I like to top my mac with some breadcrumbs, seasoned with truffle salt and mixed with truffle oil, of course. They get crispy and browned and add a nice textural dimension to the creamy pasta.
Sometimes I’ll run my mac under the broiler briefly at the end of cooking just to get some nice browning. But after that I like to dig into the pasta the minute it comes out of the oven, it’s really best at that moment.
Where can I find truffle oil and truffle salt?
- Look for both at your supermarket, you’ll have the best chance of finding them at larger or specialty stores. The bottles will be small, so keep your eyes peeled. The oil will be in the oil section, probably on a top shelf. The salt will be in the spice section, again, with other specialty products.
- Stores like Cost Plus/World Market stock both, and you can always order them online. Amazon has a good selection of truffle oils and truffle salts.
How do you know if your truffle oil is authentic?
- Be aware that it’s a little bit of a no man’s land when it comes to truffle oil labeling, so buyer beware.
- Read the label, it should only include oil and actual truffles. It should not include any chemicals, aromas, or truffle ‘flavoring’.
- Real truffle oil usually contains small bits of truffle that settle at the bottom, but even that isn’t a guarantee.
- The real deal is relatively pricey and there are fakes out there, if yours seems too cheap to be true, it probably is.
- Because of the negative publicity more companies are producing real truffle oil, so keep your eyes peeled.
- Remember that even if you don’t have access to authentic truffle oil, I think the more common artificially flavored one can be fine for home cooking. It’s what they most certainly use at your favorite restaurant, after all.
- I used this oil made by Urbani, and was happy with it. Is it authentic? I can’t actually tell, the label says it’s made with truffles, but the ingredient list doesn’t mention them.
A decadent version of everybody's favorite comfort food!
- 1/2 pound pasta, cooked just to al dente
- 2-3 cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, and finely diced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk (this helps keep the sauce creamy)
- 2 tsp truffle oil
- 3/4 tsp truffle salt (or to taste)
- 8 ounces truffled soft goat cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 Tbsp bread crumbs
- truffle oil
- truffle salt
- fresh cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 325F Lightly butter a gratin or other baking dish
- In a dry saucepan sauté the chopped mushrooms, stirring almost constantly, until they lose their moisture and start to turn dark. Add the butter and flour and cook for a minute or two, but don't let it brown.
- Slowly add in the milk, cream, and evaporated milk, stirring to blend. Turn the heat up a bit and cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it just comes to a simmer and thickens. Don't let it come to a boil.
- Take off the heat, add the truffle oil and salt, and let it cool for a minute.
- Add the cheeses and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Fold in the cooked pasta and turn into your prepared pan.
- Moisten the breadcrumbs with truffle oil and add a pinch of truffle salt. I also add some fresh cracked pepper. Sprinkle the crumbs over the pasta.
- Cook the mac and cheese for about 20 minutes, or until bubbling. If you'd like a little more browning, run it under the broiler briefly, but watch it very carefully so it doesn't burn.
- Serve the mac and cheese immediately.