Friday, February 10, 2017

Kick-Ass Mac'N'Cheese with Kung Fu Girl Columbia Valley Riesling #WinePW

Okay, I'll be honest: I shuddered a little when I saw the theme for this month's #WinePW event. Comfort food?!?

I make uncomfortable food. And I'm perfectly fine with that statement. Let me explain. And, if you're interested in the post where I came to this conclusion, click here.

But, in recent years, I've been faced with comfort food events and I've adapted, though I do still like to host dinners that make my guests squirm. Just a little.

The Conversation...
#WinePW happens on the second Saturday of the each month. And for the month of February, Cindy of Grape Experiences invited us share pairings with comfort food. Feel free to join the conversation on Saturday, February 11th on Twitter with the hashtag #WinePW. We start chatting at 11am ET.

And if you'd like to see all the past and future topics, click here. It's hard to believe we're going on three years with this group.

On My Plate...
In my mind, all the best comfort foods are gooey and cheesy. Think grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna, mac'n'cheese. So, I decided to created a gussied up mac'n'cheese to pair with wine.

This version includes butter-crisped mushrooms, fresh thyme, and chunks of smoked salmon. Yep, it's fancy! And, so that my husband could enjoy it, this mac'n'cheese is also gluten-free.


Pasta and Sauce
  • 1 box of pasta (I used gluten-free elbows)
  • 8 T butter
  • 1/3 C all-purpose flour (I used a gluten-free flour)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 2 C organic heavy cream
  • ½ C grated pecorino
  • 1 C grated white cheddar
  • 1½ C grated gouda
  • ½ C grated parmesan + more for garnish
  • 3 ounces crème fraîche
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 dashes of paprika

Crisped Mushrooms
  • 2 C mushrooms (I used brown beech mushrooms)
  • 2 T butter
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

  • 1 C smoked salmon, chopped
  • 2 T fresh thyme leaves

Crisped Mushrooms
Melt butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. When the butter begins to brown, lay your mushrooms in the pan. Make sure that you can see the bottom between the mushrooms and that the mushrooms aren't touching.

Let the mushrooms brown and crisp. Flip the mushrooms and crisp them on the other side. Only after they are crisp should you season them. Adding salt when they are cooking will lead to soggy mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pasta and Sauce
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a large, flat-bottom pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, add in the garlic, then whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes whisking constantly. 

Gradually whisk in the cream until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook cream mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.

Remove pan from the heat and, by the handful, stir in the shredded cheese. Once all of the cheese is melted, stir in the crème fraîche. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.

Gently fold in the crisped mushrooms, smoked salmon, and thyme leaves. Stir to distribute evenly throughout the pan. Dish into shallow bowls. Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese and a few thyme leaves as garnish. 

In My Glass...
I decided to pair my Kick-Ass Mac'N'Cheese with the 2015 Charles Smith "Kung Fu Girl" Columbia Valley Riesling.

This lovely little off-dry Riesling showcases classic honey and floral notes, but there's sufficient acid to balance the wine and lend to a medium finish. I think the slight sweetness paired with the creamy, decadent savory dish...and at less than $10, it's certainly comfortable on the wallet!


  1. I love this kick-ass pairing! Those mushrooms totally caught my eye.

    Cool ways to make mac-n-cheese interesting. It's probably something that could even be fab as leftovers too.

    Thanks for sharing, yummy & créativité as always. Cheers!

  2. I agree about the cheesey aspect of comfort food! Looks like a nice twist on a classic grilled cheese. I've had the Kung Fu Girl Riesling a few times, nice bottle for the price.

  3. absolutely agree! ooey and gooey does equal comfort food!!!

  4. Honestly, could there not be a better comfort food than mac and cheese? This one kicks to be sure!! And fabulous wine pairing! Thanks, Camilla!

  5. I love all things Mac&Cheese and Kung Fu Girl is one of my favorites!

  6. This sounds great. I love your "adult" style mac and cheese. And the Kung Fu Girl Riesling rocks. Kick ass all the way!!

  7. this stepped up version of mac and cheese....I'm drooling here.

  8. Hey Kung Fu Girl is frpm my neck of the woods. Great price on that wine. I like your fancy mac 'n' cheese. Fancy AND comfortable. Now if they only made shoes like that.