Sautéed assorted mushrooms and smokey Gouda are all you need for your mac and cheese. Creamy, smokey and earthy. The comfort food you will want to eat all year-long!
Last week, Bryan and I were at Vancouver, Canada. It was a business trip for Bryan. I was lucky enough to tag along. We stayed behind for a day and did some touristy stuffs. I will tell you more about the trip next week. But one thing for sure, it was raining most of the time when we were there. At one point, our socks and shoes were soaking wet. It was a bit cold as well (at least for us, Angelenos). Our jackets weren’t think enough and Bryan’s jacket wasn’t even waterproof. Cold and wet. For 4 – 5 hours, we were walking around the city like that. All we can think about was tea, hot chocolate, soup and something hearty. When we got back to the hotel and we got a change of clothes and shoes, we felt so much better.
When we were back to Los Angeles, I was still in the mood for comfort food. This mac and cheese definitely warmed our heart! Creamy, earthy, smokey and comforting. The macaronis are perfectly al dente. To make sure the mushroom flavors can stand up to the smoked Gouda. I used a blend of strong flavor mushrooms. Portobello is meaty and rich. Shiitake is little smokey and sweet. Oyster has a little sharp flavor with a velvety soft texture. Dried porcini is nutty and bold. Those mushrooms are umami and packed with flavors. They would be good on anything and everything. They sure came through in the mac and cheese too. They pair so well with the smokey Gouda and creamy sharp white cheddar. Smokiness is such a special flavor, and it is especially good in cheese. With the addition of sweet shallot, lemony thyme and fragrant garlic, this is one incredibly flavorful mac and cheese! Once you try this, you will not go back to that plain old mac and cheese. Stay warm and enjoy! 😉
*P.S. The pot holder is from Vancouver. There are cute moose and the word “Canada” all over. 🙂
Smoked Gouda Mushroom Mac and Cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot (finely diced)
- 1 pound assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, oyster, porcini & portobello)
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (minced)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 8 ounces short pasta (like elbow macaroni, penne)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 ounces grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces grated smoked gouda
- ¼ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- ground black pepper
- Wipe the mushrooms clean with paper towels. Trim or remove stems. Cut the mushrooms into ½-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. If using oyster mushrooms, keep them in a separate bowl.
- In a large pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add all the mushrooms (except oyster if using) and thyme. Season with salt. Cook for 6 - 7 minutes until the mushroom begins to brown. Toss in the garlic (and oyster if using) and sauté for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water (salted) to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with water until cool.
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in cheeses and stir until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the mushrooms and macaroni. Cook for another 2 minutes until warmed through. Adjust with seasoning if needed. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a bit of the reserved pasta water.
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a medium baking dish or individual baking dishes. Sprinkle the top with panko. Season with salt and pepper. Bake in the broiler for 2 – 5 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on the panko as they may get burn quickly. Remove from oven. Allow the mac and cheese to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.
- If you are serving this as main dish, it is enough for 3 people. If you are serving this as a side dish, it is good for 4 - 5 people.
- Use strong flavor mushrooms for this recipe. You want the mushroom to come through. I used 4 kinds of mushrooms, portobello, shiitake, oyster & porcini. Porcini has a really strong flavor, which is my favorite.
- Dried porcini needs to be soaked in lukewarm water for 45 minutes – 1 hour to rehydrate. After soaking, rinse under running water to remove all grits. Pat dried with paper towels.
- The thin brown outer layer of the smoked Gouda is not the rind. It is just cheese that got smoked. It is a little tougher. I kept them in this recipe and they didn’t bother me. You can trim out the outer layer before grating if you prefer.
- If you don't want to use the oven, you can make the panko topping on the stovetop. Melt a little butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the panko. Season with salt and pepper. Toast them until they are crisp and golden brown. That way, you can skip the oven step, but still have crispy panko.