Making a killer macaroni and cheese comes down to using some really good cheese: a nice cloth-bound aged cheddar, something with a deep nuttiness like comte, and a good parmesan such as reggiano or grana padano. If you like, smoky bacon is a welcome addition, stirring it into the sauce.
1 fresh bay leaf
100g (⅔ cup) plain flour
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g mature cheddar, coarsely grated
130g gruyere, coarsely grated
80g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan
20g finely grated black truffle
120g (1⅔ cup) fresh breadcrumbs
crusty bread and green salad, to serve (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil over high heat, add the macaroni and boil for about eight minutes or until the macaroni is tender. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat the milk in a saucepan with the bay leaf until just warm – you don't want it to boil. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan over medium high heat until foamy, then add the flour and stir constantly for one to two minutes until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the warm milk a little at a time, whisking after each addition until smooth and combined. Return the pan to medium heat and stir until the mixture begins to boil. Add the nutmeg and season to taste. Add the macaroni, cheddar, gruyere and half the parmesan and stir until melted and combined. Remove and discard the bay leaf, then stir in the grated truffle.
4. Spoon the macaroni cheese into a three-litre baking dish and scatter over the breadcrumbs and remaining parmesan. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. (Alternatively, spoon the mixture into smaller dishes for individual servings, scatter over the breadcrumbs and parmesan and bake for 25-30 minutes.) Serve immediately with crusty bread and a green salad, if you like.
This is an edited extract from The Truffle Cookbook by Rodney Dunn, Penguin, $59.99.
Checklist for buying truffles
- A strong aroma or perfume
- The truffle should be firm and heavy for its size, never soft and spongy
- Clean of all dirt
- The cut section of truffle should show a jet-black interior with white in-focus veins