Finally in receipt of my chèvre, courtesy of Goat Cheeses of France, the tangy Pico and some classic Crottin de Champcol, the Accidental Locavore needed to come up with a good recipe for them. Normally this just would have been some fun time in the kitchen with a good dinner as the result but since these both were fairly strong, specific chèvres, it took some time to figure out how best to showcase them.
I love mac and cheese and Bobby Flay’s cauliflower gratin with goat cheese and started envisioning a hybrid of the two. Maybe roasting the cauliflower first, to get it caramelized and then mixing in the chèvre and pasta, with some homemade bread crumbs to give it a little crunch. The sweetness of the roasted cauliflower would work well with the pungency of the goat cheeses. My only fear was that using strictly the Pico and the Crottin would be too pungent, so I added some domestic goat, similar to a Montrachet. This made a big dish, serving 4-6:
- 1 small head of cauliflower cut into small florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
For the mornay sauce:
- 3 cups whole milk
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup flour
- Salt and pepper to taste (white pepper if you have it)
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 ½ ounces soft goat cheese (about 3/4” slice from a log)
- 2 Crottin de Champcol (or other similar Crottin), cut into chunks
For the mac & cheese:
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- Butter for greasing the pan
- ½ wheel of Pico, sliced into thin wedges
- ¾ cup breadcrumbs
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated. Roast on a baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Remove from oven and set aside. If you’re going to cook the mac and cheese right away, turn the oven down to 350°.
While the cauliflower is cooking, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and cook the elbow macaroni for about 10-12 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Heat the milk in a medium-sized pot until warm, but not bubbling, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When it’s melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to very low.
Slowly pour in the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, whisking constantly. It will get very thick and gradually thin out when all the milk has been added. Once all the milk has been added, raise the heat to medium and keep whisking. After about 3 minutes, the sauce should thicken again. If it coats a spoon, you’re good! Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Start adding the cheese, stirring until it’s melted. When all the cheese has been incorporated, taste and adjust the seasonings.
Remove the pot from the heat and add in the cooked elbow macaroni. Stir to combine. Add the roasted cauliflower and toss until evenly coated.
With the butter, lightly grease a large gratin pan. Add the mac and cheese mixture. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and then dot the top with the wedges of Pico. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes until browned. Serve and enjoy!
My verdict: A winner– this is mac & cheese for adults! Frank said I could make it anytime, his highest praise! The sauce would be wonderful as a gratin with potatoes, or just the cauliflower on its own. I served it with some lightly-dressed arugula, to cut the richness of the dish. If you should be lucky enough to have a fridge full of chèvre, give it a shot!
Don’t forget: Leave a comment or share the post on Facebook and win a box of 5 French goat cheeses (exact cheeses to come) “so they can test, taste and create their own recipes. They will also receive a package with our tried and true recipes for inspiration, trivia cards on the cheeses so they can learn a little bit of history on French goat cheeses and temporary tattoos to show their Original Chèvre love. ” The winner will be picked on September 30th.