I seem to be on a roll with recipes that my mom won’t like! She doesn’t like tomatoes IN things, so the two last week didn’t appeal to her, and she REALLY doesn’t like mushrooms, so I know this one is not going to be a hit. Mom – the next couple should be more to your taste!
Growing up, I liked fresh mushrooms – dipped in ranch of course – but I thought cooked mushrooms were disgusting. I’m not sure when or how that changed, but now I looooove sauteed or grilled mushrooms. On a steak, on a burger, straight out of the pan, it’s all good. (Canned cream of mushroom soup remains on the disgusting list.) Here, they join garlic and an onion-flavored cheese in my attempt to create a hearty mac & cheese for these still-chilly winter days.
Adapted from Life as a Strawberry
- 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
- 4-6 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded “Steakhouse Onion” white cheddar cheese (see notes)
- 2 ounces cream cheese (see notes)
- 6-8 ounces fresh white mushrooms, sliced (see notes)
- 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced (see notes)
- Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add pasta, and cook for 9-10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- In the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, add the garlic and mushrooms, and sauté until the mushrooms are soft and reduced in size. This may take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. See notes about measurements and moisture.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk on low until warm, but do not let it come to a boil.
- Add salt to taste, then stir in the remaining butter. After it has fully melted add the flour and stir to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly add the warmed milk, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until sauce thickens. This should take 5-6 minutes, but even after 10 minutes, it never really thickened up for me.
- Remove pan from heat and add both cheeses and stir until fully melted. Add additional salt to taste as needed.
- Add pasta and stir until well-coated.
This ended up being a little disappointing. The sauce was very runny and the flavors were VERY mild. The mushrooms gave off a lot of water while cooking – I think everything got diluted. This is probably a case of too many adaptations to the original, it’s probably great if you stick to that. It wasn’t bad, just pretty bland (and that’s with double the garlic!). When I re-heat the leftovers, I expect I will need to add more cheese, as well as more sautéed mushrooms and/or garlic.
- The recipe I adapted called for gruyere and goat cheese. When I was at the grocery store, I thought I already had both. I had neither. But this Steakhouse Onion white cheddar seemed like a good match – maybe just because I like mushrooms ON steak? It needed a stronger companion; it wasn’t enough on its own.
- Additionally, I had started with 1 ½ cups of shredded cheese per the recipe, and it was nowhere near enough. I added the rest of the block, making it roughly 2 cups total.
- It turned out I actually did have some goat cheese, but it wasn’t the plain flavor, and I didn’t think goat cheese with honey would be a great fit here.
- The recipe called for 16 ounces/4 cups of sliced baby portobello mushrooms, which I don’t know if I like, so I played it safe with white mushrooms. Turns out 16 ounces of sliced white mushrooms is a LOT more than 4 cups, so I only used about half of what I prepped. I still had to add more butter to sauté them in, and they put off so much water the sauce never thickened, and the flavor was diluted.
- As always, I used more garlic than the recipe calls for. Start with 4, then add as your taste buds prefer.
Posted February 22, 2021