Ingredients 1lbPasta 6tablespoons butter 6 tablespoons flour 6 cups milk 3 cloves garlic, chopped 3 cups panko breadcrumbs 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 bay leaf 3.5 oz fresh shitake mushrooms, chopped 1teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper 1 teaspoon merquen* 8 oz shredded asiago 8 oz shredded parmesan 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain.In a separate pot heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Saute the shitake mushrooms for 5-6 minutes. Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and reserve. In the same pot melt the butter. Add in the garlic and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the flour, chipotle, paprika, merquen, black pepper, and keep stirring for about five minutes.Try to avoid any lumps.
Stir in the milk and bay leaf. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.Add the mushrooms back in and let it simmer for about 5 more minutes. Add the cheeses in one at a time and keep whisking to make sure they’re well incorporated and melted. Once they’re completely melted stir the pasta in. Once the pasta has become fully integrated, mix in half of the bread crumbs. Pour the entire mixture into a casserole or lasagna dish.Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan. Drop in the rest of the bread crumbs and stir them around just long enough to coat with the olive oil. Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the pasta mixture and bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes or until the bread crumbs on top are crispy.Let it rest for 10minutes or so before serving.
Notes: *Merquen is a Chilean spice blend. If you can’t find that I suggest upping the chipotle and smoked paprika to 1½ teaspoons each. Also these can/should be adjusted up or down for more spice and smoke as per your tastes. **The cheese blend can be varied but for best results strong, pungent cheeses seem to work best