When winter seems endless and your body is starved for the sun, make this mac ‘n’ cheese to keep you cozy through those dark days. This is comfort food kicked up a notch by adding morels from summer’s forage. Don’t let the amount of cheese and butter alarm you. Go ahead – indulge in this warm hug of a meal. When it’s -30C out, your body will thank you.
Baking time: 20 minutes
Active prep time: 45 minutes
300 g short pasta (rotini, elbow macaroni, penne, etc)
8 tbsp butter (divided into 4 tbsp, 2 tbsp, 2 tbsp)
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
250 g sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
250 g of Swiss or Gouda cheese, grated
1 tbsp mustard powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup of dried morels, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
4 cups of sliced cremini mushrooms
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley (divided into 2 tbsp and 1 tbsp)
4 slices of sourdough bread, pulsed in a food processor into coarse breadcrumbs
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Soak dried morels in boiling water for 30 minutes while the cheese sauce and buttery sourdough topping is being prepared.
3. Melt 4 tbsp butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Make a white roux by whisking in flour until incorporated, about 2 minutes.
4. Gradually whisk in milk. Whisk continuously for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
5. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until melted. Add salt, pepper and mustard powder and stir. Set sauce aside.
6. Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in sourdough breadcrumbs. Stir breadcrumbs until evenly coated with butter and cook until breadcrumbs are toasted and slightly golden. Set aside.
7. Drain and squeeze out extra liquid in morels (soaking liquid can be saved for soup stocks), slice lengthwise into small strips and sauté in 2 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. After 5 minutes, add sliced cremini mushrooms and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Reserve a bit of the mushroom mixture for garnishing.
8. Return sauce to low heat and stir in mushrooms and 2 tbsp of chopped parsley. Add cooked pasta and stir until pasta is evenly coated.
9. Pour pasta into a lightly greased 9” x 13” baking dish (or 8 medium ramekins) and top with buttery sourdough breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated 400°F oven. Cover with foil for first 15 min and bake uncovered for last 5 min.
10. Garnish with chopped parsley and reserved mushrooms prior to serving.