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Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese

It’s the tarragon in this recipe that transforms it from an ordinary mushroom and cheese dish into something truly sublime. Be sure to use the fresh herbs, as dried are simply not the same.–Laura Washburn

LC Mushroom Macaroni And Cheese Note

Ever been invited to a dinner party where the host or hostess sullies the evening by offering caveats for every single thing on the table before you even sit down to eat? Nothing dampens the spirit more than that sorta thing, so we try not to do that to you, dear readers. Although we do have two clarifications—not caveats and not apologies, mind you—that we’d like to make before you set your designs on this lovely little macaroni and cheese recipe. Just to keep expectations in check. First, this recipe turns out a quick, sophisticated casserole that does, indeed, contain pasta and cheese, although some would say the consistency is more like that of an Alfredo sauce than a classic baked macaroni and cheese. Didn’t bother us in the least, but thought you should know. Second, be very careful to only use ovenproof baking dishes in this recipe. Glass or ceramic dishes may not be able to withstand the intense heat of the broiler. So go on, reach for that ugly, battered metal 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Everyone will be so distracted by the macaroni and cheese that they won’t even notice.

Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

  • Handful coarse sea salt, to taste
  • 1 pound macaroni (a classy macaroni called cavatappi is shown in the photo above)
  • 10 ounces portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed level with cap, gills removed
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Leaves from a few sprigs fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Leaves from a few sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed grated white Cheddar, plus more to taste
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed grated Parmesan, plus more to taste
  • 8 ounces Taleggio, rind removed, diced or sliced
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C).
  • 3. Arrange the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet, stem-side up, and brush with oil. Season lightly with salt, sprinkle with the herbs, and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Remove and let cool slightly. Dice the mushrooms and set aside.
  • 4. Preheat the broiler to medium.
  • 5. Put the cream in a large saucepan and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat. Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and half the Taleggio, and stir well to melt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (If a thicker sauce is desired, add more cheese to taste.)
  • 6. Dump the drained macaroni into a large bowl. Stir in half the mushrooms and the hot cream sauce and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer the macaroni mixture to a 2-quart casserole or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (be sure your baking dish is broilerproof; do not use a glass or ceramic dish). Top with the remaining mushrooms and Taleggio and a good grinding of black pepper. Broil for 5 to 10 minutes, until the top is golden. Serve immediately.
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