Having grown up on mac ‘n’ cheese, Executive Chef Adam Keough has a natural predilection for this adult riff on the childhood classic.
Keough explains that this simple recipe is a personal favorite to prepare on a day off, especially after pulling 14–15 hour shifts at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar in San Francisco.
While chanterelle mushrooms and Swiss chard lend this dish a wintry appeal, he often fashions new interpretations depending on the season’s bounty.
Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese With Swiss Chard and Chanterelle Mushrooms
Recipe courtesy Adam Keough, executive chef of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco
5 tablespoons butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
½ bay leaf
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch black pepper
1 cup chanterelle mushrooms
¼ cup grated Grana Padano
1 cup grated Cheddar
1 cup blanched and chopped Swiss chard
3 cups cooked macaroni
Bread crumbs, for sprinkling
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over low heat. Add the flour to form a roux, and slowly whisk in the milk.
Stir in the bay leaf, nutmeg, cayenne, black pepper and chanterelles. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 4–5 minutes.
Add the cheeses, and stir until melted. Mix in the Swiss chard, and ladle the mixture into a casserole dish filled with the cooked macaroni. Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, and bake in the preheated oven for 5–7 minutes. Serves 4–6.
Ian Becker, wine director at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, recommends François Pinon’s 2009 Cuvée Silex Noir from Vouvray in France’s Loire Valley. “A Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is a compelling balance of voluptuous off-dry aromas and a strong backbone of mineral tones and acidity,” he says. “The honeysuckle and white flower bouquet offers a brilliant tug and pull with the pungent Grana Padano and Cheddar cheeses, while the minerality and acidity wipe the palate clean, readying it for more.”