Winner Announced for the 2012 Seattle Cheese Festival Mac & Cheese Contest
Susan Neel has taken home the gold for her delectable Mushroom Mac and Cheese with Brioche Crumbs! Along with cheesy fame, she's won a $250 DeLaurenti gift card.
Mushroom Mac & Cheese with Brioche Crumbs
1 pound dried pasta: I used DeCecco Elbow pasta
6 cups half and half
3 large sprigs fresh rosemary, bruised (smacked around)
11 ounces fresh goat cheese
4 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
1 cup toasted brioche crumbs (preferably Macrina) tossed with 1/4 cup melted butter
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
For Brioche Crumbs: Start with stale brioche bread or buns. Tear coarsely, pulse a couple times in food processor. You want rough crumbs, so don’t pulverize. Put on a sheet pan and dry in a 250 degree oven until dried and slightly toasted. Cool. Right before using, measure out 1 cup and toss with 1/4 cup warm melted butter to coat lightly.
For Mac & Cheese: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a handful of kosher salt – don’t be stingy.
Meanwhile, put half and half, rosemary and a half teaspoon of salt in a large heavy pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Lower heat, then simmer until reduced to about 2-1/2 cups. Remove the rosemary but don’t worry about the few pieces that remain behind.
Raise oven temp to 400 degrees.
While the half and half is reducing, sauté the mushrooms in 1/4 cup melted butter and/or olive oil over medium heat, uncovered, until cooked through, liquid mostly removed and edges slightly browned. Once the half and half is reduced, add the goat cheese, mushrooms (and any residual juice) and bring back to a simmer. Cook through over low heat until it coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce. Toss to combine. Pour into buttered baking dish. Top with toasted brioche crumbs tossed with butter. Bake in 400 degree oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
Serves 6 to 8.