Truffled Mac & Cheese with Basil and Kale Pesto

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Hint From Ken:

The truffle oil should be a quality brand and can be found at higher end grocery stores or online. It is expensive but a little goes a long way and it is worth it and not something you wanna substitute or omit in this dish. Creme fraiche is a kind of a fancier better version of sour cream. It has a lower viscosity and a higher fat content and is no doubt decadent. If you can’t find it in the store look online for very simple recipes to make your own. It takes only a few minutes to make but does have to sit in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before using.

1 lb of elbow macaroni

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

3/4 cup fresh grated Vermont cheddar cheese

1/2 cup of goat cheese

1 1/2  cups of creme fraiche

1/2 cup of cream cheese

1 cup half and half

1 tbsp. truffle oil

salt and pepper

Breadcrumb mixture for topping

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup crushed Ritz brand crackers (place in a zip lock bag and lightly hammer till crushed fine)

1/4 stick of butter

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of white or black truffle oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Start by preparing the topping and combine all BREADCRUMB MIXTURE ingredients except butter and parsley.

2. Melt butter in skillet on medium heat.

3. Add breadcrumb mixture to melted butter and toast while stirring consistently for a few minutes with a wooden spoon.

4. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley to mixture. Set Aside…

1. In a large pot, boil salted water and prepare pasta. Identify al dente cooking time on box or package and let it boil 1 min longer then that.

Drain and immediately return to empty pot while pasta is still hot.

2. Add goat cheese, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, creme fraiche and cheddar cheese… Stir into hot pasta till melted and well blended.

3. Add 1 tablespoon of truffle oil and half and half (add more if necessary to make creamier).

Salt and pepper to taste. Add more truffle oil if preferred.

4. Add 3/4 cup of HillBilly Supper Club Basil and Kale Pesto (see recipe HERE) and stir in to pasta mixture.

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5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish with butter or cooking spray…

6. Transfer pasta mixture to greased casserole dish. Cover w tin foil and bake for 15 minutes

7. Remove from oven and discard tin foil. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top and return to oven for 15 minutes.

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8. Remove and let sit for 5-10 minutes then serve.

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The cast of CMT‘s “I Love Kellie Pickler” at one of their Hillbilly Supper Clubs

Pictured left to right: Ken Johnson, Kellie Pickler, Dave Baker, Cale Dodds, Allison Baker, Kyle Jacobs & Andi Zack-Johnson

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016

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Hillbilly Supper Club Basil and Kale Pesto

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Hint From Ken:

Be sure to use decent olive oil and fresh basil and kale which can usually be found in the store even when out of season. I like to make plenty in the summer when Andi and Kellie’s garden is producing like crazy.

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It’s fun to spend a Sunday afternoon with friends listening to music, sipping on something and canning…

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We can tomatoes, squash, okra or pickles, beets etc and my pesto. Canning is worth learning about. It is very rewarding and It’s nice to still be able to enjoy the bounty of the garden later in the winter months.

2 cups fresh packed basil leaves

2 cups packed chopped FRESH kale

4 average size garlic cloves

1/2 to 3/4 cup of walnuts

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano, Parmesan or Romano cheese

Juice of a half of lemon

Salt and Pepper to taste.

1. Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth. Store in air tight container. Keeps in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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Chickens Laverne & Shirley and Goldie in The Champagne Garden www.thechampagnegarden.com

©Ken Johnson Hillbilly Supper Club 2016