Swiss Cheese. I hold this hole-ridden treat in adoration as it’s given me many great pots of fondue, added the perfect compliment to a simple turkey sandwich and has caused me to swoon when combined with mushrooms as a topping for a burger. It’s mild and sweet and offers a lot to love.
I had a container of sliced mushrooms that had been sitting front and center in the fridge since mid week. An emergency purchase for some sort of lost idea that never made it’s way to the table. They needed to be used. I pulled out a package of Jarlsberg from the deli drawer, grabbed some butter and milk, fished around for a package of pasta in the pantry and stirred up one of the best mac and cheese dishes we’ve ever had. Mushrooms and Swiss, classic partners, combined with a white sauce and pasta was a perfect side dish for our floured and fried boneless skinless chicken thighs…which are an indulgent story all their own.
I credit the creamy consistency of this dish to reserved pasta water which was added to the white sauce. Why? This soupy water that you throw down the drain is a miracle ingredient. It contains essential starch that can be used to adjust sauce or gravy, to thin or thicken. I learned this trick years ago from my Mother. She also used reserved water from boiled potatoes to make the most delicious fried chicken gravy.
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- 1 T. Olive oil
- 1 pint container of sliced mushrooms
- ½ t. salt
- 2 T. butter
- 3 T. flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3 slices or 3 - 4 ounces Swiss cheese
- reserved pasta water
- ½ pound elbow macaroni
- For the mushrooms: In a fry pan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and saute until the moisture evaporates and mushrooms are just starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the white sauce: Combine olive oil and butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. When butter is melted and starting to bubble add the flour and cook stirring constantly. Sprinkle in a little more flour if needed to make a thick roux. Cook for about a minute and a half. Add the milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Add cheese and blend well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Right before draining the pasta, reserve about a cup of the hot pasta water. Drain the pasta and mix it with the white sauce. Add the mushrooms. Mix everything together well while drizzling in some of the reserved pasta water until you reach that perfect creamy consistency.
Creamy Swiss and Mushroom Mac and Cheese…It’s what’s for a Side Dish.