If you don't live in New York, or if, like me, your budget is more Annie's than outrageous, why not try making a similar dish at home? Today's Cook the Book recipe, excerpted from Top Chef: The Cookbook, is for Truffle and Cognac Cream Macaroni and Cheese. To follow the recipe exactly you'll have to splurge on the Perigord black truffles, but you could also omit them—the cognac and sherry add a healthy dose of extravagance on their own.
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- Yield:4 to 6 servings
- Unsalted butter for the baking dishes
- 1 cup of cognac
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 6 roasted garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 6 ounces Perigord black truffles: 3 ounces finely chopped, 1 1/2 ounces thinly sliced with a truffle slicer, mandoline, or very sharp knife, and 1 1/2 ounces finely grated
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
- 6 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 2 cups), plus more for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons chipotle Tabasco sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound fresh penne or other pasta, cooked al dente
- 8 ounces fontina cheese, finely grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups seasoned sourdough croutons
Generously butter the bottom and sides of 4 to 6 medium baking dishes. Set aside.
Place the cognac in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the sherry and stir until evaporated. Add the chopped truffles, cream, reduced cognac, oregano and thyme.
Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by half and the truffle flavor is infused, about 20 minutes. Watch the pot carefully so the cream doesn’t boil over. Add the Parmesan cheese, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta and fontina cheese and stir until the cheeses are melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
Place the croutons in a food processor and process until broken down into crumbs.
Arrange a layer of truffle slices on the bottom of each baking dish.
Divide the pasta among the baking dishes and top with the crouton crumbs, grated truffles, and a sprinkling on Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly and browned on top.