Saturday, January 21, 2012

Umami Cafe Revisited

On my never-ending quest to find and prepare the ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe, I thought I might backtrack a bit and make the official Umami Cafe truffled mac and cheese from Chef John Pratt, instead of my knock-off version. Now, for those who want a very thick and gooey pasta, this might not be the one for you. But I LOVE it! It's so very flavorful, and the texture is lighter--not on calories, mind you--but because it doesn't have any binders or thickeners like flour or eggs. It's simply reduced cream, shallots and garlic sauteed with white wine, and cheese. As you might infer, there are a lot of separate steps to this recipe, so it's a little involved. Not that any of it is hard to do, but it might be best saved for a weekend project.

Umami Cafe's Truffled Macaroni and Cheese
(Source: adapted from John Pratt, Umami Cafe)

1 lb. elbow macaroni
2 cups heavy cream
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4!)
1 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio--I used Chardonnay)
2 oz. black truffle butter (I only used a generous teaspoon)
1 tablespoon black truffle oil (I omitted this)
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese, shredded (or 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup smoked Gouda)
salt and pepper, to taste

panko crumbs or in a pinch, bread crumbs (I used one cup crumbs plus 4 tablespoons melted butter which I browned in a saute pan until the crumbs just started to color)

Cook pasta in salted (don’t be shy with the salt) boiling water until tender but not mushy. Drain and empty out on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Reserve.

Reduce cream in non-reactive sauce pan. Bring heavy cream to just boiling, reduce heat to low setting and simmer for 30 minutes or reduced to half. Reserve.

In non-reactive sauce pan, sauté shallots and garlic in a tablespoon or two of butter until soft but not browned. Add white wine and simmer until wine is almost gone. Add reduced cream and bring just to simmer, then add grated cheese and whisk to incorporate. Add truffle butter and oil (if using), then salt and pepper to taste.

Combine pasta and sauce. Transfer to a casserole dish and top with the buttered panko crumbs. Place casserole in a 350 degree oven to bake until crumbs are golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Garnish with a few drops truffle oil and minced chives.

No comments: