Fratelli Perata Winery

Italian Meltdown Gourmet Macaroni and Cheese


There are certain comfort foods in your life. Macaroni and cheese is one. However, some variety is good and as we, ahem, age our tastes also mature. Italian Fontina cheese is a nutty Swiss-like cheese that replaces cheddar in the old standby. Coupled with porcini and truffle oil, this rich dish simply melts together with Tre Sorelle. The basis of this recipe is from the Wine Lover Cooks Italian, by Brian St. Pierre. What follows is our interpretation.

1/3 c bread crumbs, dried
1/3 c pine nuts, chopped
2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 c boiling water
12 oz penne
1 T white truffle oil
2 c Italian Fontina cheese, shredded
Salt, freshly ground pepper
1 T unsalted butter
1 T flour
c milk

Preheat over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

In a small bowl mix together the breadcrumbs and pine nuts. Set aside. Put the mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over them, and soak about 30 minutes to soften. Remove porcini, rinse with cold water. Chop finely, set aside. Water used to soak the porcini will probably have some sand in it. Pouring carefully into a cup, pour off the clear water.

Cook the pasta as directed on the package to al dente. Drain thoroughly, place in bowl, toss with 1 tsp truffle oil.

Cover the bottom of the prepared baking dish with the pasta. Scatter mushrooms evenly over pasta, and then repeat with the 1 cup minus a couple tablespoons of the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with remaining pasta.

Make the sauce: in a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, whisk in the flour, slowly whisk in the milk and the mushroom liquid. Reduce heat and continue cooking 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in rest of cheese. Cook another 5 minutes. Sauce should be smooth.

Pour evenly over the pasta. Top with breadcrumb mixture, sprinkle 2 tsp truffle oil over crumbs. Top with few shreds of cheese.

Bake until top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.