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[Michelin recipe] Macaroni Gratin – a refined version of Mac and cheese

This is a refined version of the classic mac and cheese from the cookbook Bouchon by Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller. The additional breadcrumbs enhance the texture of the dish with their crispiness. To put this together quickly you may replace the Mornay sauce with store-bought Alfredo sauce and do this in 30 minutes. However, the homemade Mornay sauce, a thickened white sauce with cheese, is what makes this dish really stands out. 

Ingredients (makes two servings):
4 ounces macaroni
1-1.5 cups Mornay sauce (see below)
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper
Grated nutmeg
2-3 tsps minced thyme
1/4 cup grated Comte/Emmentaler/Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs

Mornay sauce ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1.5 cups of milk
1/2 cups of heavy cream (optional)
1 bay leave
2 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
Grated nutmeg
White pepper
2-3 tablespoons of cheese (Comte or Emmentaler or Gruyere)

Prepare the Mornay sauce – Melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat

Add one chopped onion and a pinch of salt and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally

Add 2 tablespoons of plain flour and stir for another 2 minutes, beware not to burn or colour. Then add 1.5 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of heavy cream (optional) to the sauce, bring to a gentle simmer and whisk until fully incorporated. Then add 1 bay leaf, 2 black peppercorns and 2 whole cloves to the sauce and lower the heat to low. Let it summers slowly for 30 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Remove the sauce from heat and season with salt, grated nutmeg and a pinch of white pepper. Strain the sauce, add 2-3 tablespoons of cheese (Comte / Emmentaler / Gruyere as you like) to the sauce and whisk to melt. Set aside the Mornay sauce or it could be refrigerated for a few days (press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface if not used immediately).

Cook the macaroni as instructed by package. Drain and rinse under cold water, drain on paper towels. Add the Mornay sauce to the macaroni and mix well.

Cook sliced mushroom over medium to high heat and set aside

Add sliced cooked ham and the cooked mushroom to the macaroni and mix well. Taste and season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg as needed

Pour into a shallow baking dish

Sprinkle the top with bread crumb, cheese (Comte / Emmentaler / Gruyere) and herbs (thyme or rosemary)

Preheat oven to 195C and bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the mixture starts to bubble.

Remove from oven and ready to serve.


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