pasta, grains, + noodles

bacon + truffle mac and cheese

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This is the THIRD mac and cheese recipe I've posted.  I'm not sure what that says about me, if anything at all, but I just wanted to put that out there.

So let's talk about truffles. I suggest using truffle salt but you could use some shaved black truffles.  Personally, I'd rather see you put that money towards a nice trip or a bad-ass knife but totally your call.  Truffle salt, when fresh and of excellent quality, is a great, inexpensive way to add some depth of flavor and a little funk to a dish.  I use it often on over-easy eggs and in linguine carbonara.  Truffle salt is pretty straightforward; salt that sits with fresh truffles until it has absorbed the right amount of  essence.  Truffle oil, on the other hand, is generally pretty vile stuff that has way less in common with actual truffles and way more in common with something would scrape off of your shoe.

I used double-smoked maple bacon but there are plenty of other options that would work just as well.  You may even want to consider adding some caramelized onions (about 1/2 cup chopped) to make this even more delicious.  As if that's even a possibility.

bacon + truffle mac and cheese

1 lb shaped macaroni 

4 c + 1 c shredded aged cheddar 

1/2 c grated parmesan cheese

4 T butter

1/4 c + 1 T flour

1 T dijon mustard

pinch of cayenne pepper

2 T creme fraiche

3 c milk 

4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon

1 1/4 c panko breadcrumbs

truffle salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375º

Start a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta until it's still a bit firm.  Drain and place in a casserole dish.

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Cook the bacon until golden but still tender, drain and chop.

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While the pasta water is going, start your roux.  Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over med-high heat.  Add the flour and whisk together until a loose ball starts  to form. Pour in the milk, taking care to to scrape all of the pan to get any pockets of roux that may be hiding on the bottom and along the sides of the pan.  Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Once your béchamel has thickened, add the mustard, season with truffle salt, cayenne and black pepper.

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Stir in the creme fraiche, 4 cups of cheddar and parmesan cheese.  Whisk until smooth over medium heat. Stir in the bacon (and caramelized onions if using)

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In a separate bowl, combine the panko, 1 cup of shredded cheese and season with some truffle salt and black pepper to taste.

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Mix the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce and spread the panko/cheese topping over the dish. Cook until brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes.