For those of you who follow my Twitter feed, you already know that I inexplicably managed to tear my back up while writing some preliminary notes for my pending novel…the term “pending” being used very loosely… And I wasn’t even writing the GOOD part. With a tentative release date sometime in the early-to-mid(-to-late) 21st century, you just can’t buy that kind of obscure publicity.
And for those of you who do not yet follow me on Twitter, how dare you?? May the shame and public humiliation prompted by my current indignation haunt you through all your remaining days – or at least until you repent and come tweet me a little love. Your choice, as always.
In addition to the incomprehensibly blinding and hysterically unprovoked back pain, I have also spent the past few days reconciling the fact that, after a full week, my “FOCKITALL” movement has yet to effect global social reform. So, yeah… Needless to say, I’m pretty bummed. Who knew that universal paradigm shifts and global harmonization of all mankind took so damn much work…
However, you and I have been through much together – your insight is unparalleled and I know that you know, straight down to the darkest recesses of your foodie-fueled soul, that my crusade against willfully stupid things that piss me off shall continue, unabated… The only real question born of this crushing temporary agony of spirit and deltoid is, “what the heck am I going to cook when I once again conquer gravity and can craft some serious comfort food from a fully upright position?”
If you are an American, know an American, used to date an American or have ever read a book about an American, you probably know that this is more of a rhetorical question than an actual soul-searching inquiry. Comfort Food = Mac & Cheese.
Of course, if I were just about to regurgitate a basic Mac & Cheese recipe that has been beaten into submission time and again, this would not be a Sauce Boss blog. After no fewer than 36 blisteringly boring hours in involuntary repose, I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop short of the most pompous and awesome Mac & Cheese ever envisioned.
Shiitake, Shallot and Sage Mac & Cheese with Smoked Gouda
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium shallot, diced (~1/3 cup)
1 small sage leaf, bruised
6-8 oz shiitake mushroom caps, sliced (stems can get quite rubbery)
2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp parmigiano-reggiano cheese
pinch kosher salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
8 oz smoked gouda cheese, grated
6 oz gouda cheese, grated
1 tsp dry yellow mustard powder
1 pinch kosher salt
1 Lb (16 oz) dry elbow macaroni or similar pasta
While preparing your ingredients, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
Cook the diced shallot and sage leaf in hot olive oil until shallots begin to caramelize.
Add in the sliced shiitake caps and cook the blend down until mushrooms are nicely softened.
Personally, I prefer to take it easy on my sage so I remove the wilted leaf before setting aside. For the sage fanatics among you, feel free to dice or chiffonade one or more sage leaves and add them while caramelizing the shallots and softening the mushroom, then just leave them in the mix and set aside.
Stir the minced garlic into 3 Tbsp melted butter and drizzle this mixture over your panko in a medium-sized bowl. Blend in your grated parmigiano-reggiano and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix well and set this bowl aside as well.
Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp in a saucepan and add in the flour. Whisk the mixture on medium-low heat until it begins to bubble. This should only take a couple minutes but be careful not to let it begin to burn and discolor.
Add in milk, cup by cup, whisking constantly. After 5 or 6 minutes, you should have a smooth sauce with a heavy cream consistency.
While whisking non-stop, gently raise the heat on the sauce until it simmers, then quickly reduce the heat again to maintain a slight simmer for about 10 minutes, whisking occasionally.
Remove the sauce base from the heat and whisk in your grated cheeses, mustard powder and pinch of kosher salt. Set the cheese sauce aside but make sure to keep it gently warm.
In a suitably-sized pot of salted water, add in your dry pasta and cook to al dente.
Drain your pasta thoroughly and return it to the pot, adding in the cheese sauce and primary ingredients. Pour the well-stirred mac & cheese mx into a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumb topping over it.
Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes and enjoy. Honestly, this stuff is insane. If you’re not careful, you may find yourself intentionally tweaking muscles while promoting ill-fated social reform movements, as thinly-veiled excuses to wrap your injured little taste buds in this creamy blanket of awesome.