Getting My Mac On

52 macs in 52 weeks

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Week 50: Parmesan Truffle Mac

I actually got this idea from one of my favorite items in the frozen food aisle! I haven’t bought it in a year – with alllll the mac & cheese I’ve made over the past 51+ weeks, I couldn’t quite bring myself to PAY for a frozen single-serving, but I’ve been missing the taste. When I decided to try a copycat version, I looked up the ingredients online. I was surprised to see that it has more cheddar than Parmesan – I flipped that in my version. The truffle oil and heavy cream make it a little bit richer and more luxurious than some of the more traditional macs. It would make a nice treat for a special meal. (I had originally planned this post for Valentine’s Day but I was at my 12-year-old nephew’s birthday party.)

Parmesan Truffle Mac

Inspired by Evol Truffle Parmesan Mac & Cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces penne pasta
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (see notes)
  • 6 ounces VERY finely shredded Parmesan cheese (see notes)
  • 2 ounces coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons truffle oil, divided

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350 and coat a baking dish (or two) with non-stick spray.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs with 1-1/12 tablespoons truffle oil.
  • Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the milk and cream over low heat but do not let it boil. Remove from heat.
  • Melt the butter over low-medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk continually for 2-3 minutes.
  • Slowly add the warmed milk, stirring continually. Continue to cook over low-medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5-6 minutes. (It will still be fairly runny.)
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Add the cheddar cheese and the finely shredded Parmesan and stir until fully melted.
  • Drizzle in ½-1 tablespoons of truffle oil and stir.
  • Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
  • Pour into your prepared baking dish. It looks pretty soupy before it goes in the oven, but you want extra sauce in baked mac so it doesn’t dry out. I even had some sauce left over, which will come in handy when re-heating.
  • Top with the breadcrumb mixture and/or the remaining (coarsely shredded) Parmesan. I did one pan with breadcrumbs and one pan with cheese. I think it would also be great with both.
  • Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, then switch your broiler to low and broil for another 2-3 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs (or cheese) are golden brown. The breadcrumb pan was ready after a couple of minutes, the cheese topping pan took closer to 5 minutes. (Watch closely though, I’ve learned the hard way my broiler can take things from not quite done to scorched very quickly.)

RESULTS

Soooooo good! The breadcrumb topping only pan is lighter and somehow delicate, while also being very tasty. The pan topped with shredded cheese, has – not surprisingly – a stronger cheese flavor and is also really tasty. This is one of the best ones in quite a while.

NOTES

  • I almost always use extra-sharp cheddar, but I wanted a softer note here to let the Parmesan stand out, so I dialed it back a step to just “sharp.” Medium or mild would probably be fine here as well – I find them too bland for most macs, but it’s really just a supporting player here so there’s more flexibility.
  • Parmesan isn’t a great melting cheese – I’ve learned in my frequent attempts at Alfredo sauce that the more finely shredded it is, the better. I use a super-fine microplane and the cheese is so light it seems like it could float … and it melts much more smoothly. Because it’s so fluffy, it’s more important to go by the weight before it’s grated than by a measurement like “2 cups.”

Posted February 24, 2021

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