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The weather has turned cold in Knoxville which puts me in the mood to make comfort food. My husband soaked our shiitake logs last week and we had beautiful harvest of shiitakes for me to play with. The fondu twist to tradional mac and cheese comes by adding Gruyere and Swiss Cheese, white wine, a dash of nutmeg and cherry brandy.
You will need:
Saute the mushrooms in olive oil or butter until they are brown and crispy, add salt and pepper to taste. It is important not to crowd, so each mushrooms can get equal time kissing the pan. This is how we like them. I have found that most people who say they don't like mushrooms will eat a nice brown crispy mushroom. This is mostly a texture issue, lightly sauteed mushrooms, especially shiitakes, can be chewy.
While the mushrooms are cooking, start the pasta. I used whole wheat pasta. Pour the whole box of penne into a large saute pan and add water and 2 teaspoons of salt. I bring it up to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes and turn off the heat. After about 5 minutes taste the pasta to see if it is the right consistency. I find this is the best method for cooking out the cardboard flavor in whole wheat pasta. Drain the pasta and add to a 9x13 rectangular casserole dish with minced garlic and the sauteed mushrooms. In the same pan used to cook the mushrooms add the 3 tablespoons of butter and olive oil, whisk in the flour and keep it moving for a few minutes to cook flour and remove lumps. Whisk in white wine and cook off the alcohol for a minutes. Stir in the milk and simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently, add the cherry brandy and nutmeg and simmer for 1 more minute turn off the heat and add 75% of the grated cheese. Salt and pepper to taste and fold into macaroni and mushroom mix in casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, until it is a nice golden brown.