Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Mac & Cheese to End All Mac & Cheese

Last year, a few of my coworkers went to Smith and Wollensky for Restaurant Week and came back raving, not about the steak or the wine selection (both of which S&W is famed for) but about their Truffled Macaroni and Cheese. Since then, I have heard several raves about it and so this week, when t he whether turned gray and rainy and cold and the idea of a nice hot bowl of home made mac & cheese sounded so good, I decided to track down the recipe and give it a whirl.
I never denied that I have LOTS of time on my hands. And if you want to attempt this monster of a macaroni and cheese dish, you too will need a lot of time. Give yourself at least two to two and a half hours from the first shallot you chop to the moment you take the delicious cheesy perfection from the oven.

I of course had to tweak this recipe a bit because truffles and truffle oil? Not so easy to find. I actually did find truffle oil at a nearby gourmet shop but at $49.99 for the bottle I had to pass. So this is more or less the Smith and Wollensky Mac and Cheese dish without the truffleness.

Now, this is not a recipe for people on a diet. This is a recipe for people who are pretty much on the opposite of a diet. It contains no less than ONE bottle of white wine, 7.5 cups of various cream and almost a few sticks of butter not to mention several handfuls of cheese. Of course something that unhealthy is going to taste HEAVENLY and since we all try to eat healthy most of the time I think we should all get to splurge once in a while!!

So let’s get to it! You will need:

2 cups shallots, chopped
1/2 cup garlic chopped
4 cups white wine
4 cups heavy cream
3.5 cups half and half
2 tsp. black pepper
3 small cubes chicken bouillon (I used 1 extra large one)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup jalapeno jack cheese, grated
1.5 cheddar cheese, grated
1.5 lbs. ditalini
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup butter
1 cup Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
1/4 cup butter
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

A few notes before we get started.

I love the texture of Panko and the seasoning in Italian style bread crumbs so I was PSYCHED to find this

And I had planned on just subbing in macaroni for the ditalini since I couldn't find it but when I finally did I ended up being psyched. The texture and size is perfecto! It is my new fave Macaroni & Cheese pasta. Well, I guess that makes it Ditalini and Cheese.

Get your chopped scallions and garlic together and sweat them in 1/2 cup butter in a large sauce pan or dutch oven until translucent (about 10 minutes).

Add white wine and reduce by half (takes about half an hour).

Don't be scared...but this is how much heavy cream is in this dish


Once it is reduced add in that monster amount of heavy cream as well as the black pepper, chicken bouillon, and half & half. Bring to simmer (10-15 minutes) .

In a small saucepan, create a roux by melting the remaining 1/4 cup of the butter then mixing in flour. Whisk continually until light blond. Add roux to simmering mixture to thicken. Simmer an additional 10 minutes.

Add in all cheeses. Instead of the cheddar and jalapeno jack (which I could not find) I used a bag and a half of Sargento Shredded Cheddar Jack which worked smashingly.

When all cheeses are melted (about 10 minutes) blend mixture in covered blender or food processor (you will probably have to do two batches), then return to saucepan and bring back to a simmer (10-15 minutes). Add in pasta, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.

For the topping, combine about 1/4 a cup melted butter with a cup of Panko. The resulting bread crumb mixture should have a moist appearance and texture.

Side Note: To make it more of a meal, I had cooked up some breaded chicken strips using the rest of the Panko earlier in the night and I added it in at this point. However the dish is so substantial on it’s own you don’t even need to do that.

Place macaroni and cheese into a large casserole dish and evenly spread the topping over each dish and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Oh My God.

That is some cheesy heaven right there. This dish is definitely a departure from any other homemade mac and cheese I have made. The wine and garlic and shallots give more depth to the cheese and in my mind make it more "adult". Adam and I normally opt for healthier dishes so it was nice just to not think about that for a night. He LOVED the dish and it's a good thing since it makes about 20 servings!! I brought the leftovers in to work for my coworkers to snack on since as delectable as it is, I fear for my arterial flow if this magnificence was to stay within my reach for more than 12 hours.

This is an ideal dish for a pot luck or for a dinner party - a classy/modern take on homey favorites is always appreciated and you could always be daring and prepare it with the truffles (if you are interested in that, email me and I will send you the original recipe) OR add in some chopped up prosciutto.

Either way, it's divine.


Jenny said...

AAAH! If only I weren't on a diet. :(

Nicky said...

Ummm...not to sound like a TOTAL spoiled brat...but for those of us who just have *happened* to go to Tuscany in the last year and just *happen* to have truffle oil on hand...could you toss it into the directions for me? (o;
Not that I'll be making this fatty deliciousness any time soon...I gained so much weight post-wedding that I'm trying desparately (and, so far, failing) to be "good". Booo. But this recipe sounds AMAZING. Maybe I'll make it for a holiday or something...)o:

Sarah said...

It would be PERFECT for the holidays. And let me know if you find truffles up near you for a reasonable price because around here not so much!

Email me from your correct email address because I have like three of them for you and I am not sure which is the correct one!

Nicky said...

I do have 3 e-mail addresses!
I'll MySpace you!

Nicky said...

Alas, I too have no truffles.
)o: But I know where to get some infused truffle oil.

The Cappellas said...

Just FYI, Chris and I were thinking of having a holiday pot luck this year. And we wouldn't turn you away at the door if you brought this. JUST SAYIN'!!! hahaha

Libby said...

Sarah, that looks fan-freaking-tastic! Meals like that one make my insides feel cozy.

J said...

OMG...that looks like it could give you a heart attack but I think it would be worth the risk!

Anonymous said...

though this looks absolutely delicious, my insides just fell out. <3 danielle

Lys said...

I gained 5 lbs just from reading the recipe *LOL* but it sounds delish!

Tres Poshe Preppy said...

OMG! This looks amazing. I really haven't found a mac & cheese that I didn't like but this one has got to take the cake!

Thanks for stopping by! :)

Happy Homemaker said...

I can't wait to try!

Farrell & Lauren said...

perfect for the fall! so excited to try this.

Buffy said...

Are you trying to kill me?

I have never. Ever. Been able to say no to Mac.

Perfectly Plump Preppy said...

That sounds like heaven. I have a Mac & Cheese recipe I got from an old episode of the now defunct Issac Mizrahi Show but this sounds even better. We always have a pasta dish on Christmas. This might just be it this year.

Thanks Sarah.