Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese
By Chef Alexandra Feswick, Chef de Cuisine
The Drake Hotel, Toronto, ON
This truly unique Canadian macaroni & cheese experience starts with combining the distinctive nostalgia of home-styled comfort classics such as Cheddar, sage and mushrooms, and memorably finishes by pairing them with the luxurious flavours of hazelnuts, Blue cheese and Jerusalem artichokes.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: about 48 minutes
Baking Time: about 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
1 lb (500 g) Jerusalem artichokes, divided
2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
3 cups (750 mL) 2% milk, divided
1½ cups (375 mL) 35% whipping cream, divided
1 pkg (150 g) Beech mushrooms, trimmed and separated (about 2 cups/500 mL)
¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
3 tbsp (45 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp (1 mL) each ground nutmeg and black pepper
1 lb (500 g) cavatelli pasta
1½ cups (375 mL) shredded Canadian 7-year-old Cheddar cheese
1½ cups (375 mL) shredded Niagara Gold cheese
2/3 cups (150 mL) crumbled Blue d’Elizabeth cheese
1 cup (250 mL) shredded Alpindon cheese
1 cup (250 mL) panko breadcrumbs, toasted
½ cup (125 mL) toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) chiffonade or finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp (45 mL) finely shredded Alpindon cheese
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped sage
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
1. Preheat oven to 375°F (160°C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In medium bowl, toss half of the whole, unpeeled Jerusalem artichokes with oil and salt. Place on prepared baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes or until artichokes are soft, easily poked with fork. Place roasted artichokes in blender with ½ cup (125 mL) of milk and ½ cup (125 mL) of cream; blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
3. In medium saucepan, combine remaining milk and cream, heat over medium heat until bubbles start to form around the edge of the saucepan and steaming about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, dice remaining Jerusalem artichokes into ½-inch (1 cm) pieces. Add to heated milk and cream mixture and cook over low heat until soft when poked with a fork, about 20 minutes. Strain Jerusalem artichokes and reserve milk and cream mixture. Return milk and cream mixture into saucepan; add mushrooms and cook on low heat until mushrooms soften, about 3 minutes. Strain mushrooms and reserve milk and cream mixture.
5. In a clean medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Mix in flour until fully incorporated. Stirring constantly with wooden spoon, cook for 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in reserved milk and cream mixture, nutmeg and pepper. Simmer on low heat, constantly stirring until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes
6. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and spread on parchment lined baking sheet; set aside. Preheat oven to high broil.
7. Remove, sauce from heat and whisk in one at a time the Cheddar, Niagara Gold and Blue d’ Elizabeth cheeses (the sauce will be thick and stringy with melted cheese). Stir in reserved Jerusalem artichoke puree.
8. In large pot, mix together sauce, pasta and reserved Jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms until well combined. Transfer into a 13×9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish and sprinkle with Alpindon cheese. Broil on middle rack, until bubbly and top is crispy, about 5 minutes.
9. Topping: In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, nuts, parsley, Alpindon cheese, sage, and salt. Sprinkle over hot pasta in dish. Serve and enjoy!
Chef Tip: Combining the pasta with the cheese sauce while they’re both hot helps guarantee a moist and creamy mac and cheese.
Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada and Balmoral Multicultural Marketing