We've been experiencing somewhat of a cold spell in Chicago during this last week of March, and for us, that means one thing: we can't wait to get our hands on some deliciously warm comfort food!
It's a good thing we have Chef Maximo Lopez May, executive chef of Wall & Water at Andaz Wall Street, who has concocted a delicious mac 'n cheese perfect for any time of year. Chef May's mac n' cheese creation can be made with Cato Corner Bloomsday cheese, Gruyére or Emmental cheese, along with exotic mushrooms.
Chef May's "haute" comfort food was recently featured in The New York Times, and now you can make this cheesy goodness in the comfort of your own home by using Chef May's recipe below.
We're hoping for a warm up here very soon, and even when it does finally feel like spring, we will most likely still be enjoying this dish!
Chef May's Mac 'N Cheese
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1.5 hours
Adapted from Maximo Lopez May, Executive Chef , Wall & Water
- Sea salt
- 1 pound dry strascinati, strozzapreti, orechiette, cavatelli, or rigatoni pasta
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for buttering baking dish
- 4 slices day-old country bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups oyster mushrooms, turmpet mushroomr, or hen o' the woods, wiped clean, trimmed and left whole, if small, or cut lengthwise, in half or thirds, if large
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, optional
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk, or as needed
- 10 ounces, or more, as needed, Cato Corner Bloomsday cheese, or Gruyère, or Emmental, grated or finely chopped
- Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, 10 to 13 minutes, depending on the size of the pasta. Drain and set aside.
- In a small pan over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small bowl, combine bread, thyme, and half the melted butter. Mix and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine remaining melted butter, onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, adding olive oil if pan looks dry, and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes.
- When the mushrooms are tender, add wine and stir until it has evaporated. Add cream and 1 cup milk, and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, 10 ounces grated cheese, lemon zest and chopped parsley. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, add more milk and cheese as needed for a creamy, cheesy sauce.
- Butter a 10-inch diameter baking dish, 3- to 4-inches deep. Pour in pasta mixture, and top with bread mixture. Bake, uncovered, until the bread turns golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.