Monday, February 24, 2014

Mushroom and Swiss Mac and Cheese for #MacCheeseMania

This post is part of the multi-blog #maccheesemania, coordinated by Rachel from Rachel Cooks and Brandy from Nutmeg Nanny.

There are all sorts of great mac and cheese recipes from some fantastic bloggers, and a chance to win some great prizes (details at the bottom of this post).

Prizes include Door to Door Organics Gift Cards, OXO Gift Baskets, Zak Designs Prize Pack, a year's supply of Cabot cheese, a Vermont Creamery gift basket, a risotto kit from Marx Foods, Barilla pasta, Anolon Advanced Bronze 4.5 Qt. Tapered Stockpot, Rachael Ray Stoneware Casseroval, Wusthof CLASSIC Studio Block Set, Microplane Graters and Kitchen Tools, a SavorX Starter Block with spices, and Le Cordon Bleu by Swissmar oven to table roasters. All giveaways open to US residents over the age of 18 only.

Mac and Cheese Mania is being sponsored by Door to Door Organics and OXO.

So let's get right to the recipe, shall we? This was inspired by my love of mushrooms. And I guess it reminded me of Swiss-mushroom burgers. Without the burger part.

Choose whatever mushrooms you like - all one kind, or a mix. For some reason, the mushroom section at my local grocer was pretty barren, so I used white button mushrooms. Baby bellas might have been better, but to be honest, I like fresh button mushrooms, and in this quantity, it had a lot of mushroom flavor, and a perfect balance with the cheese.

As for the cheese, a basic Swiss is fine, or you can go to the fancy cheese section and go crazy. The choice is yours. As far as those red pepper flakes, add as much or as little as you like. I added a hefty pinch so the mac and cheese had a nice zing.

Mushroom and Swiss Mac and Cheese

For the bread crumbs:
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup bread crumbs

For the mac and cheese:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup flour
2 cups cream, half-and-half, or milk
1/2 cup creme fraiche
8 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 pound shell pasta, cooked al dente
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
1 cup buttered bread crumbs

To butter the bread crumbs:

Use a tiny knife and spread the butter - no, just kidding. 

Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet, dump in the crumbs and stir until all the butter is absorbed and the bread is lightly toasted. Remember, this gets cooked more in the oven, so you're not looking for a dark toast. Since my bread crumbs included the bread crusts, mine started out a little darker than if I had made my crumbs from just the bread middles.

Set the crumbs aside until needed. You can make these well in advance, or right before you need them.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and have a a 1 1/2 quart baking dish standing by. Larger is fine, if you don't have the perfect size. Or you can cook in several smaller dishes, if you like.

In a large saucepan or skillet or saucier (big enough to hold all the sauce, plus the noodles, after they're cooked) melt the 4 tablespoons of butter.

Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the mushrooms are cooked through and most of the liquid disappears.

Add the flour and stir. It will become very dry. Add the milk and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan well. Bring to a simmer. Add the creme fraiche, stir to combine, then begin adding the cheese in small handfuls, stirring after each addition to incorporate the cheese.

Add the cooked pasta and chives, and stir to coat the pasta with the cheese. The liquid should be thick, but not goopy. Thin enough to call it a liquid. If it seems too thick, add some of the pasta cooking water to thin it out.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top. If it's a really tight fit in your baking dish, you might want to put it on a baking sheet, or put a sheet of aluminum foil under it to catch possible drips.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is bubbling around the edge of the dish.

Serve hot.

Be sure to visit all the other great bloggers participating in Mac and Cheese Mania!

Jalapeno Popper Mac & Cheese by Heather's Dish
Buffalo Cheddar Mac and Cheese by Eats Well With Others
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese with Gouda by Sarah's Cucina Bella
Light Sweet Potato Mac 'n Cheese Recipe by Cookin' Canuck
Macaroni and Cheese Fritters by Amuse Your Bouche
Skinny Chicken Mac and Cheese Casserole by A Zesty Bite
Smoked Bacon Mac and Cheese by Cravings of a Lunatic
Pizza Mac and Cheese by Very Culinary
Crab Mac and Cheese by Dine & Dish
Bacon & Eggs Breakfast Mac & Cheese by Sweet Remedy
Fried Mac & Cheese Balls by The Little Kitchen
Sweet Pork Macaroni and Cheese by Oh, Sweet Basil
Butternut Squash Quinoa Mac n' Cheese Bake by Queen of Quinoa
Lightened Up Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese by Prevention RD
Butternut Mac and Cheese with Pretzel Crust by Healthy. Delicious.
Skinny Greek Mac and Cheese with Crunchy Pita Chip Topping by The Law Student's Wife
Potato Skin Mac and Cheese by Eat Your Heart Out
Homestyle Baked Mac & Cheese by Pocket Change Gourmet
Bacon Mac and Cheese Egg Rolls by Miss in the Kitchen
Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese by Crunchy Creamy Sweet
Blue Cheese Bechamel Mac and Cheese by Sweetphi
Korean Mac & Cheese by Cooking with Books
Black and Blue Mac and Cheese by Fabtastic Eats
Tomato and Leek Mac and Cheese by Susie Freaking Homemaker
Healthier Mac & Cheese with Chipotle Peppers by Go Gingham
Mac and Cheese Ice Cream by Fat Girl Trapped in a Skinny Body
Blue Cheese & Bacon Macaroni & Cheese by Gimme Some Oven
Poutine Mac and Cheese with Andouille Gravy by Climbing Grier Mountain
Double Smoked Chicken Mac and Cheese by Girl Carnivore
Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese with Peas and Bacon by Running to the Kitchen
Nudel Gratin by Crumbs and Chaos
Mushroom and Truffle Sea Salt White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese by Big Bear's Wife
Roasted Poblano and Goat Cheese Mac by Daisy at Home
Creamy Cauliflower 'n Cheese with Bacon by Barefeet in the Kitchen
Wisconsin Cheese, Brats, and Onion Macaroni and Cheese by a farmgirl's dabbles
Spinach Queso Mac & Cheese by Bake Your Day
Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese with a Pancetta Parmesan Crust by Mountain Mama Cooks
French Onion Mac & Cheese by Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts
Healthier Macaroni and Cheese by Texanerin Baking
Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese by CafeTerraBlog
Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Peppers by Cook the Story
Jack Daniels Mac and Cheese by The Slow Roasted Italian
Lobster Mac and Cheese by FoodieCrush
Green Chili 5-cheese Baked Mac and Cheese by A Southern Fairytale
Homemade Elbow Noodle Tutorial + a Recipe for Roasted Veggie Mac by Bakeaholic Mama
Salsa Verde Mac-n-Cheese (two ways) by Eat2Gather
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko Topping by The Lemon Bowl

If you want to enter the GIVEAWAY:

Go to Rachel Cooks and/or Nutmeg Nanny and enter to win some great prizes!