Mushroom Mac & Cheese (soulful stovetop edition)
I came up with this recipe for macaroni and cheese looking for a way to recreate the comfort food factor of baked mac & cheese without the lengthy bake time and multitude of steps required to make it the classic way. *The Crunch* is really important to me as part of the texture experience, so we make Frico crisps (literally fried cheese) to go on top. The addition of sauteed mushrooms adds an extra depth of flavor and protein (I like to use lions mane, oyster and shiitake mushrooms but there are so many wonderful ones, feel free to experiment!) This is the recipe that we used on the Real Food Stage at the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, Wisconsin a few weeks ago and it was so off the charts great that we made more the following weekend at The Henry Ford's Greenfield Villiage during the last day of their central market days for the summer. At both events, watching the smell of this mac and cheese drift through the crowd and make everybody hungry row by row totally made my day. If you need some good cozy comfort food going into the cooler seasons this autumn, this mac and cheese recipe is sure to please.
- 1 Pound Dry macaroni pasta I prefer chickpea pasta for protein and it’s gluten free, plus it holds it’s structure really well, but use your pasta of choice!
- 2 ½ Cups Whole milk You could use oat milk or another non-dairy option
- ½ Cup Vegetable or Chicken Stock If you don't have any stock on hand, water will work just fine.
- 2 Cups Cheese, shredded Usually I use a combo of smoked gouda, gruyere and sharp cheddar.
- ½ Cup Sweet yellow onion
- ½ Pound Mushrooms I love this especially with oyster, shiitake or lions mane mushrooms but when chanterelle are in season, it’s a stunning combo
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard If you're into different gourmet mustards, feel free to play with other varieties, it adds a nice subtle zing to the whole thing.
- ½ teaspoon Salt Generally I use sea salt or a smoked salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Bring the milk and vegetable broth to a gentle boil. Add the dry pasta and cook (keeping at a gentle boil) stirring frequently until the pasta is cooked, about 8 – 10 minutes. When done, remove from heat. Do not drain any liquid.
- Start the frico topping, instructions below, while the pasta is cooking.
- While the pasta/broth/milk is cooking, julienne the onion (on the small side) and roughly dice the mushroom (I aim for a slightly variegated size for texture, but not too big and remember that they’ll shrink significantly when you’ll fry them in a moment) melt a tablespoon or so of butter in the pan and sauté the onions until glossy. Add a bit more butter and toss in the mushrooms, saute until the edges of the mushrooms are beginning to crisp up and the onions are turning golden.
- When the onions and mushrooms are ready, toss them into the pot with the cooked pasta, add the onion powder, garlic powder, mustard, salt, pepper, and shredded cheese. Stir to combine and melt the cheese. Usually I do this without putting it back on the burner, but if it needs a boost melting it, low heat will do.
- Serve immediately with a frico disc on top of each serving.
- FRICO TOPPING (prepare this while you’re waiting for the mac & cheese to cook)1 cup shredded cheese (use the same cheese combo from the main mac recipe)2 tbsp unsalted butter (more if needed to keep cheese from getting stuck on pan)1/4 tsp coarse pink himalayan sea salt flakes (smoked salt flakes are awesome here too)Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat, sprinkle cheese in small (2” ish) piles leaving melting space between each pile. Each pile should be evenly spread so that it comes out about the same thickness. Flip each disc when it’s just beginning to be golden brown on the bottom and sprinkle a tiny bit more shredded cheese on the top along with a pinch of sea salt. When the bottom is golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside until the mac and cheese is ready to serve.