For garlic bread crumbs (makes more than needed for recipe):
12-ounce loaf of (sourdough or baguette) day-old bread, sliced.
½ cup garlic oil
3 cups fresh mixed mushrooms (oysters, maitakes, shiitakes, beech, king oysters)
3 tablespoons olive oil, for roasting mushrooms
5 cups milk
½ large yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife, skin left on
4 parsley sprigs
4 fresh oregano or marjoram sprigs
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons softened butter (for buttering dish)
½ pound penne or lily pasta
½ pound aged white cheddar and Gruyere mix cheese (Cabot, Grafton, Roth Kase), grated (about 2 cups)
2 ounces good-quality Parmesan, grated (about 2/3 cup)
1 cup garlic bread crumbs
1. Make the garlic bread crumbs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut day-old sourdough or baguette into thin slices and place on a baking sheet. Brush bread with garlic-infused oil, generously or lightly, as you like. Bake until golden and very crisp, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Break up the bread with your hands and pulse in a food processor, leaving the texture a little coarse.
2. Roast the mushrooms: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and roast in oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and reserve.
3. For the sauce and assembly: Combine the milk, onions, garlic, and herb sprigs and leaves in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Set aside to steep for 15 minutes. Pour through a strainer and return to the pan.
4. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk in the flour to make the roux, and cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes.Slowly whisk 2 cups of the seasoned milk into the roux to make a paste. Add the remaining milk, 1 cup at a time, until all the milk has been incorporated. Continue to cook, still whisking, over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. The sauce will be just slightly thickened. Season with the Dijon, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the sides and bottom of a 2-quart baking dish.
6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt lightly. Drop in the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes (it should be slightly undercooked to allow for baking time.) Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over and toss in the cheeses (reserve a handful of Parmesan). Fold in mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish, making sure to include all of the sauce. Sprinkle with enough of the garlic bread crumbs and remaining Parmesan to cover dish with about a quarter-inch layer, then bake until golden and bubbling, about 40 minutes.
From Talula's Table
Per serving (based on 8): 887 calories, 33 grams protein, 68 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams sugar, 62 grams fat, 135 milligrams cholesterol, 895 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.