Want to add a little sophistication to your traditional mac & cheese dish? Add a little flavour with some truffle oil and a delicious crunch with the Panko and Parmesan crust.
When simple mac & cheese is on the menu but you’re suddenly expecting guests you want to impress, don’t change the menu, just add a few extra touches to elevate this traditional comfort food dish.
An added tip is to make individual portions since it’s not a very elegant looking dish in the first place.
I love the flavour of truffles, both black and white, but since it’s worth it’s weight in gold I usually have to settle for truffle infused oils or salts. These have become quite easy to get hold of so give it a try if you can.
Truffles/truffle oil works best with anything that doesn’t have much flavour but carries flavour well, such as potatoes, pasta, white fish, etc. It tastes absolutely delicious on fries, to turn the ordinary potato chip into a posh fry. Simple pasta dishes also carry the flavour well. Although it woks well with cheese, it should not be used with strong flavours as it’s subtlety will be overpowered.
Final tip. You can use black truffles/truffle oil in cooking, but white truffles/truffle oil should be reserved for drizzling over at the end as the cooking process kills the delicate flavour. So keep this in mind when purchasing products infused with truffles.
Truffle Mac & Cheese with Panko Parmesan Crust
- 500 grams Penne or Macaroni pasta
- 1 Tbsp White truffle oil to add after cooking Optional
- 2 Cups Warm Milk
- 2 Tbsp Black Truffle Oil
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 2 Cloves of garlic (crushed)
- ¼ Cup All-Purpose/Cake Flour
- 1 tsp Salt or Truffle salt
- 1 Cup Grated Strong/Mature Cheddar
- 1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs* Can be substituted with ordinary dry breadcrumbs
- ⅓ Cup Finely grated Parmesan
- 1 tsp Dried Italian Herb Mix
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Stir as not to stick or add a dash of cooking oil and cook for around 8 minutes (not until fully cooked), then drain and set aside
- While the pasta is cooking make the sauce. Begin by heating the milk just a little in the microwave or on the stove top
- Add the butter, black truffle oil and garlic to a saucepan and bring to medium heat until melted
- Add the flour to the melted butter and stir to form a paste (I prefer to use a whisk than a spoon when making the sauce to avoid lumps). Let it cook for a minute or two to remove any raw taste from the flour but ensure the heat isn't too high as you do not want it to burn
- Add the warm milk a little at a time, stirring/whisking well after each addition to ensure no lumps form. Continue until all the milk has been incorporated and you have a lump free mixture
- Turn the heat up slightly to let the sauce cook and thicken, stirring occasionally. I prefer not to let the sauce come to a boil as it can sometimes split and ensure there is no sticking on the bottom
- When hot and starting to thicken slightly, add the grated cheddar and stir until it melts into the sauce
- When the cheese is incorporated and the sauce has thickened a bit, add the salt/truffle salt to taste. The sauce shouldn't be too thick as you need some liquid to help the paste cook further
- If you are happy with the consistency and taste, remove from the stove
- Combine the Panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and herbs and set aside
- Add the partially cooked and well drained pasta to a large oven dish or individual smaller oven dishes or pans. For additional truffle flavour, drizzle over a little white truffle oil and mix trough
- Next, add the sauce to the pasta and stir until well combined. Ensure there is a little extra sauce as the pasta will absorb it while cooking
- Sprinkle over the topping and bake for around 25 – 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown
- Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of minutes before serving