Mushroom Macaroni Cheese “Risotto”

French Fridays with Dorie

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese Risotto-1We’ll start this off by saying that this mushroom macaroni cheese is no more “risotto” ’cause it is cooked by stirring it in a hot broth than pizza becomes “Hawaiian” when you top it with a some pineapple. Nonetheless, Dorie Greenspan’s French friend managed to wow her with her “Dressy Pasta Risotto” one day and “bam!, the die was cast for it to one day become a French Friday’s with Dorie selection. Since Dorie herself refers to it as risotto we will do the same here. We do this even though it is so not risotto or even close. The dish is not even French even though a French person once made it. Today isn’t even Friday and yet here I am taking time out from my busy schedule to feature yet another instance of macaroni and cheese for the second time in a week!

So much for New Year’s resolutions! Can you blame me? All it took was one look at the recipe for me to realize that while the whole deal may not be French and it certainly isn’t risotto, it would be good. And that is all that ever matters.

The recipe is more “méthode” than actual recipe which these days I find much more endearing anyway. If you know what mac and cheese is (and who doesn’t?) then you should already know what the basic output is going to be here. Only this method  essentially makes it all in reverse, without a béchamel, and all in one pot – with chicken stock. Got that? 

Dorie’s methodé has you sauté an onion first (See? Its already pretty damn good!), add some chicken broth to a boil and then the macaroni. Once the stock has nearly absorbed into the macaroni you will add some cream, then cheeses, stir it up some more, and then serve. Once you get the gist of what this method is all about you will be compelled to change it up to suit your own style by adding additional flavors, proteins, veggies, etc. (Think risotto, duh.)

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese Risotto

I noticed Dorie made this even easier to prepare than real risotto is by not asking for the broth to be added in small additions (as real risotto calls for). She has you pouring it all in at once making this savory side dish even less like the actual risotto she still names it for.

Some of the Doristas have found themselves as of late challenged by one or more of the more “acquired tastes” on our recent menu. Chicken livers, raw-cured salmon, prune-potato gratins and such. All of which makes this appearance by a good old fashioned mac and cheese something of a palate cleanser for our intrepid group. It was nice to see a gaggle of ‘lapsed Doristas” crawl back on board for this, our 2014 inaugural effort. Mac and cheese always seems to have great timing if nothing else and this week, nothing grounds a Dorista more than a cheesy, savory, pasta dish — no matter how it is prepared.

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese Risotto

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese “Risotto”

Dorie offers up two variations (“bonne idees“) on this dish the her recipe — this should be your clue that just about anything is possible here and there will be no wrong “idee”. (Check out the Doristas‘ blogs for some of the great versions they came up with — I am so in love with the Doristas who used goat cheese!) I decided to take this to a full on savory mushroomy macaroni cheesy herby risotto place by adding in some dried mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes I had on hand with a very light seasoning of fresh thyme. (Adriana, you are my culinary doppelgänger this week!) The umami rich mushrooms, the savory chicken stock, the slightly sweet mascarpone cheese, and the tangy Parmesan cheese all combined to create quite a sophisticated taste profile.

If such a thing is possible with mac and cheese?

Since there was none of the traditional béchamel sauce in sight this version gets its cheesy sauce mojo from the pasta starch which gets boided out in the broth and the boiled down cream andthe cheeses: Parmesan and mascarpone (both Italian cheeses – the last time I checked.) Of course, any cheeses you should have on hand that are ‘melty’ would be good choices here but using the mascarpone in a savory sauce was the key take-away for me from this week’s assignment — it would be a shame if you skipped it.

I wonder how it would taste in real risotto?

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese Risotto-4

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese “Risotto”

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Mushroom Macaroni Cheese “Risotto”

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table

This is what you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3¾ cups chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dried mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/3 cups elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3½ tablespoons mascarpone

This is how you make it:

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Toss in onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once the broth is boiling add the dried mushroom and tomatoes and give a quick stir.
  3. Add the pasta and stir it around until well mixed. Let it cook at a simmer until just about all the liquid has absorbed. About 20 to 25 minutes. (There should be just ¼ inch or less of liquid bubbling at the bottom of the pan.)
  4. Add the fresh thyme and stir for one minute.
  5. Pour in cream and allow it to simmer for about 3 minutes, until it thickens slightly.
  6. Stir in Parmesan and then the mascarpone and cook for 1 minute, taste for salt and pepper.
  7. Pull the pan from the heat, cover, and let rest for 3 minutes before serving.


This Mushroom Macaroni Cheese “Risotto”dish was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe.

You should buy the book though. It will change your life as it has mine.

About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Trev’s culinary
    Doppelgänger of the week?
    Oh, high fives galore!

    It was a pleasant surprise having so many people show up for this delicious pasta this week. I suspect a high number of “will be a better/more consistent blogger this year” resolutions too.

  2. And WordPress ate the “” tag indicating that was my resolution 🙂

  3. Thyme and mushrooms???? I’m swooning!

  4. Wow! This sounds wonderful. I am going to have tto purchase the book, Trevor! Best to you – and keep it up with the Macaroni and Cheese. I am loving it!

  5. Yes, this was definitely a crowd pleaser though not a waist pleasure… oh well, when I start my dirt and seed diet I’ll loss my cheesy pasta weight. PS: I’ve begun to take inventory of your dishes and flatware. (I seem to love them all.)

  6. So are you telling me that when I put Camembert on my meatball sub it’s not French? I am devastated.

  7. I’m with ya. Taste matters more than titles and this one was yummy.

  8. Happy new year Trevor! Your recipe sounds delicious, if not naughty in terms of calories… which some people may be on the watchout for at the start of the new year. Scrumptious and simple nonetheless.

  9. This looks so unbelievably tasty.

  10. Looks so good – I need to try this again with mushrooms 🙂

  11. This was so good and easy that I actually made it twice this week. Your additions sound delicious! Fresh thyme is always good too! And if this were real risotto, I’d probably make it a little too often and I’d be unable to fulfill my other resolutions.

  12. Frankly, I have decided that AMFT is just one big bonne idee. That is my story, and I am sticking to it. And…I am very glad you didn’t add pineapple and ham to this one. That idee would not have been quite so bonne 🙂

  13. Wonderful photos, Trevor! And I love how you amped up the flavor on this simple dish that is just full of potential!

    Happy New Year! xoxo

  14. I gotta try DG’s “méthode” next time I make mac-cheese or even risotta – thanks so much for sharing your adaptation!

  15. Mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, what brilliant additions! I will try them next time.

  16. Your version looks wonderful! I am looking forward to playing around with this dish – so many possibilities!

  17. Yum! Mushroom pasta “risotto” sounds great to me.

  18. Love your presentation and enjoyed reading your post very much!

  19. I like your additions, even if you did copy Adriana. Happy New Year, Trevor!

  20. Yummy!

  21. You are too funny. My husband used to frequently ask “what makes this dish French?” when I served my FFWD creations. He’s pretty much stopped asking. You’re right, though, who cares if it isn’t French (or risotto), as long as it tastes good!

  22. Decadent! GREG