Since we’ve established that Thanksgiving is all about the sides, allow me to now make a case for mac & cheese on the Thanksgiving table. Is it necessary? Absolutely not, but Thanksgiving is not the time nor the place to make decisions based on necessity.
This mac & cheese is inspired by the classic Croque Monsieur sandwich which is made with brioche, Paris-style ham, gruyere cheese and a luscious bechamel sauce. To mac-and-cheese-ify it I made a mornay (fancy word for cheese sauce) by adding some grated gruyere into my warm bechamel and tossed it with cooked pasta and Fabrique Délices Diced Jambón de Paris. To really tie in the essence of a Croque Monsieur I also seasoned the mornay with a little dried thyme, nutmeg and grainy Dijon mustard. To make this casserole of cheesy goodness even more special, I topped it with Black Truffle Butter breadcrumbs before baking it off. If you want to make this ahead for Thanksgiving or Christmas, assemble up to one day in advance, then let sit a room temperature for 1 hour before baking as directed (30 minutes at 350˚F).
When we enjoyed this at home we served it with a little green salad and a crisp white wine and pretended we were in France, but mashed potatoes and gravy would make for a much better accompaniment!
This recipe is Sponsored by my friends at Fabrique Délices. They make beautiful, artisanal, high-quality French specialties and offer the best and the most versatile line of Charcuterie in the United States.
- 2 cups Fabrique Délices Diced Jambón de Paris
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 pound pasta, of choice
- 4 tablespoons butter, plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 cup flour
- 5 cups whole milk, warm
- 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons Fabrique Délices Black Truffle Butter
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Maldon, to finish
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish, set aside.
To a large, deep, sauté pan add ham and cook for 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Drain and discard excess liquid, and set ham aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside in the large pot used to cook the pasta.
To a medium, deep, sauté pan, add butter and melt over low heat. Add thyme and flour and cook for 2 minutes, or until it turns golden brown and smells nutty.
Slowly add milk, a little at a time, while whisking constantly. When all of the milk has been incorporated, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and gruyere cheese. Whisk until cheese is fully melted.
Add the cheese sauce and ham to the pasta, tossing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to the prepared baking dish.
Add truffle butter to a small sauté pan and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add Panko and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Top the mac and cheese with toasted breadcrumbs.
Bake for 30 minutes, then broil on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and brown.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Finish pasta with a pinch of Maldon and black pepper and serve warm.
I’ve had the bourbon shortbread cookies and they taste like a true “Old Fashion”.
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