Saturday, February 11, 2012

Black Truffle Oil + White Cheddar Mac

Yes, this is rich, but who wants to eat low-fat mac n' cheese? Not me! I'd rather just have a reasonable portion of the good stuff, and this is the good stuff. The brie is creamy while the cheddar adds a bit of texture. The black truffle oil, available at most specialty grocery stores,  is the thing that sends this dish into the stratosphere. Plus, if you serve it with steamed broccoli, you can feel good that you also ate your veggies...right?

Black Truffle Oil + White Cheddar Mac
(serves 4-6)

4 quarts water
1/8 cup salt
1/2 pound rigatoni
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups whole milk
6 ounces white cheddar (shredded, divided)
4 ounces brie (rind removed, cubed)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons course bread crumbs (I used cornbread)
1 tablespoon truffle oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (about 4 sprigs)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bring 4 quarts of water and 1/8 cup salt up to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the rigatoni and cook according to package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a 12-inch pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, flour, nutmeg, garlic powder, crushed red pepper, and black pepper, and then whisk it constantly, cooking until nutty and fragrant (about 3 minutes). Slowly add the milk as you whisk to work out any lumps. Turn up the heat to medium-high while continuing to whisk until milk comes to a low boil and begins to thicken slightly (this could take about eight minutes). Reduce heat and slowly add 4 ounces of the cheddar and the brie to the milk mixture. Whisk until all of the cheese has melted into the sauce. Add the lemon zest. Temper the egg yolks by whisking two tablespoons of the cheese sauce into them then add the egg yolks to the mixture.

Using a slotted spoon or spider, remove pasta from the water directly into the pan with the cheese sauce. Gently fold the noodles into the sauce as not to break them. Pour pasta mixture into a seven-inch soufflé dish, top with the remaining cheddar, and bake for 10 minutes. Add the bread crumbs and drizzle the truffle oil over the top of the whole thing. Bake another ten to fifteen minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden. Garnish with thyme leaves. Serve with steamed broccoli to make it a meal.

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