Let the record show that the extreme lack of any type of food styling in these photos is indicative of two things. One, this is literally how they looked when they came out of the oven, so consider this a mix of “keeping it real” and “I was hungry” (hello, it was Super Bowl Sunday!). Two, I had taken a little bite out of one of the dishes to check for seasoning, and it was SO good, I had zero interest in prettying this up. Nay, this baked mac and cheese required immediate consumption.
Surprisingly, it had been a few years since I’d whipped up mac and cheese (blog name’s not withstanding). Sunday’s big game seemed like the perfect excuse; plus, I recently found these gratin dishes on sale, and have been using them as an excuse to make delicious, cheesy, baked things in the oven. This version of mac and cheese is no exception — it uses a three cheese sauce, chopped bits of salty prosciutto, and an herbed breadcrumb topping. But what makes it extra special is the use of white truffle oil. Divine!
Fancy as it seems, if you’ve made a white sauce before, this dish is a cinch to put together — and even if you haven’t, it’s easier than you think. This recipe could be perfect if you want to cook a little sumthin sumthin for your special someone on February 14. Just add Champagne, a simple green salad, and you’ve got a dinner to remember! Here’s how I made it:
Baked and Truffled Mac and Cheese with Prosciutto and Herbed Breadcrumbs
Serves 4 as a main dish
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
– pinch of ground nutmeg (if you don’t have it, you can skip)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
– kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups freshly grated gruyere (about 8 oz)
1 cup freshly grated white cheddar (about 4 oz)
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (about 4 oz — can also substitute grana padano or asiago)
1 lb (box) pasta — penne rigate, rigatoni, orecchiete, whatever you want!
3 oz prosciutto, diced
For the breadcrumb topping:
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white truffle oil
– extra truffle oil for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 375º. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cover.
In a separate large pot, melt the butter over medium to medium high heat. Once melted, add in the flour, and whisk gently to combine (this is called a roux — it thickens the sauce). Cook for 2-3 minutes, until it has the consistency of thick, wet sand and it smells toasty. This will remove the raw, floury taste. Pour in half the milk and whisk to distribute the roux and be sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Pour in the remainder of the milk and bring to a low simmer. The roux will not reach it’s full thickening power until the liquid simmers or boils. Sprinkle in the nutmeg, garlic powder, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat of the sauce to low. Add in all the grated cheese, and stir with a spoon to combine. Taste the sauce (it should taste amazing) and check for seasoning. Keep in mind you don’t want it too salty, since the prosciutto is salty as well!
With the water in the separate pot boiling, add in the pasta and cook to al dente — usually a minute or two less than the package directions. While the pasta cooks, prepare the breadcrumbs: in a bowl, combine all the breadcrumb topping ingredients, and toss to combine and evenly distribute the oils.
Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander, then transfer all the pasta directly into the cheese sauce. Gently fold to combine, and remove from heat. Fold in the diced prosciutto.
If you are using gratin dishes, drizzle a little bit of the truffle oil into the bottom of each one; this way, as you scoop the mac and cheese out, each bite will get a little truffle oil on it. If you don’t have gratin dishes, you can bake the entire thing in a single casserole/baking dish, and serve the mac and cheese family style. Drizzle some truffle oil in the base of this dish.
Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to individual gratin dishes, or into the baking dish, on top of the truffle oil. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the mac and cheese. I recommend placing the baking dishes on a baking sheet to catch any spills in the oven!
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the mac and cheese is bubbly and golden (I did it for 20 minutes on Super Bowl Sunday and wished it was browner, but got hungry!). If you want the top extra crispy and browned, finish the dish under the broiler for about a minute — be sure to keep an eye on it, as it can burn quickly!
Serve with a light mixed green salad and enjoy!
Images by Victoria McGinley for vmac+cheese