Truffle Mac and Cheese, courtesy of Ina Garden
I’ve recently become obsessed with watching Ina Garden (aka Barefoot Contessa) on Hulu. I tried to watch Giada, but she was just way too perky for me (what’s up with her ginormous head?!?) Anywho, Ina is a bit more down to earth and laid back which I like. Also her food is classier and more gourmet whereas Giada’s food is California fun. Also, Ina Garden used to work for the White House (as a nuclear energy consultant) before leaving to follow her true passions and starting a specialty food store based off of Julia Child recipes!
One main tiff that I have with Ina though, and a lot of other food bloggers have also noticed this, is that she’s not that relatable though to her main audience. Not all of us have humongous kitchens that a family of 6 could live in, in the East Hamptons, with 2 refrigerators (not including freezers, those are separate), 2 dish washing machines, and 6 stove top oven! I was doing fine with this recipe, boiling 1 lb of pasta (my local grocery store didn’t have her fancy cavatappi so I had to use regular old elbow macaroni), chopping up the shiitake and cremini mushrooms. One of the first ingredients is truffle butter, and none of the local stores (including Whole Foods) in New Orleans carry this specialty item, the only online company I found was D’artagnan, and it would have cost $25 for the butter and $28 for shipping. I ended up using regular butter and regular truffle oil (which I had ordered online months ago and luckily kept in my pantry). Once I had melted the butter and truffle oil, I added in the chopped up mushrooms and then add some cream sherry (whatever you do, don’t drink this with dinner. It is super sweet and 17% alcohol content. Definitely the wrong choice for dinner). Once the pasta and mushrooms are done, set them aside.
Then she says to use a food grinder for the 12 ox of Gruyere cheese and 8 ox of extra sharp cheddar. I don’t have one, so I thought ok, my mandolin slicer will suffice. WRONG! the cheeses crumbled under the pressure and so I spent about half an hour dicing up all the blocks of cheeses. And then she says to pulse fresh white bread until they’re minced. Also difficult to do without a food grinder……..I had to hunch over with a knife and cutting board and manually mince my bread into breadcrumbs. As you can probably tell from my tone, I was not pleased while making this and so there are no pictures of the process. It’s cooking experiences like these that make me wish that my dream kitchen will become a reality sooner rather than later. At this point my mushrooms and pasta were cold and I had to reheat everything in a large bowl, mixing the cheeses with the mushrooms and pasta and whisked milk (which became super frothy. I recommend throwing this in a sink full of water to make washing later easier). Then set it in the oven for 35-45 minutes to allow the cheeses to melt and the bread crumbs to become golden brown.
The truffle macaroni and cheese was delicious. The crispiness of the bread crumbs perfectly complemently the pasta texture (not too mushy!). I especially loved how the truffle oil accentuated each of the cheese’s natural flavors. It was amazing! I shared this dish with a few friends who also gave it rave reviews! I definitely recommend this
Review from a fellow diner who had the pleasure of dining some of this terrific dish: “Just needed to send you a quick note to say how AMAZING your mac and cheese was… super decadent, loved the truffle oil, the cheese was great, and I also really liked the crunchy top to break up the texture. Thank you sooo much!!!”