The Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off | Cod You Believe It's Shmoked Mac n' Cheese

This past week the Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC) held its bi-annual showdown of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off.  With Mac n' Cheese as its theme, the event took place at DFC’s Canadian Cheese Counter at the Toronto Food & Drink Market. This year, four top chefs and foodies from across Canada took to the stage in an attempt to create the ultimate comfort food using Canadian cheese, pasta and a little imagination.

This year's competitors included Andrew Farrell, Chef de Cuisine at 2 Doors Down Food + Wine in Halifax, Nova Scotia;; Alexandra Feswick, Chef de Cuisine at the Drake Hotel in Toronto; Nicole Gomes, Executive Chef at Nicole Gourmet in Calgary; and Thompson Tran, Chef and Owner at The Wooden Boat, Port Moody, BC.

The DFC sent over the ingredients so we could try one of the recipes from the cook-off;  Chef  Thompson Tran's "Cod You Believe It's Shmoked Mac n' Cheese".  As Chef Thompson explained, " British Columbia is well-known for its abundance of fresh sustainable seafood and artisanal quality hand-crafted products.  It was an obvious choice to combine the bold, elegant and earthy flavours of smoked fish with unctuous, sharp salty characteristics found in some of my favourite Canadian cheeses".

This recipe was super fun to make with ingredients we don't usually cook with, like truffle oil, serrano chili peppers, smoked black cod and fish sauce and the result was one of the best Mac n' Cheese dishes we have ever had.  A smokey-creamy-cheesey-pasta party in your mouth. Check it out!

Cod You Believe It's Shmoked Mac n' Cheese

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 16 minutes
Baking time:10 to 12 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

½ lb (250 g) gemeli pasta
½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine
¼ cup (50 mL) fish stock
1 cup (250 mL) milk
¾ cup (175 mL) 18% tablecream
1/3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter, divided
Grated zest of 1 lemon, divided
4 to 6 drops truffle oil
2 slices sourdough bread, cut in ½-­‐inch  (1 cm) cubes
1½ tbsp (22 mL) all‐purpose flour
1¼ cup (300 mL) shredded Canadian Emmental cheese, divided
¾ cup (175 mL) shredded Canadian 4‐year‐old Cheddar cheese, divided
2/3 cup (150 mL) 1‐inch (2.5 cm) cubed smoked BC black cod or any smoked mild white fish
½ cup (125 mL) roughly chopped cabbage
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely sliced, de‐seeded serrano chili pepper or to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh tarragon

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).  Butter an 8 or 9‐inch  (20 to 23 cm) square oven-­proof baking dish.

2. In large pot of boiling, salted water cook pasta according to package directions, about 7 minutes.
Drain half of the pasta in colander, rinse in cool water and drain; combine with remaining unrinsed
pasta. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, combine wine and fish stock; cook on high heat until half of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in milk and cream. Set aside.

4. In a small skillet, melt 2 tbsp (30 mL) of butter over medium heat. Add half of the lemon zest, truffle oil and bread cubes, sauté until bread is light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

5. In a large pot, melt remaining butter over medium heat, until frothy. Whisk in flour and cook for 1
minute. Gradually whisk in reserved milk mixture. Reduce heat to medium-­low and cook for 3 minutes or until thickened, whisking occasionally.

6. Remove from heat; stir in ¾ cup (175 mL) of Emmental cheese and ½ cup (125 mL) of Cheddar cheese. Add drained pasta, smoked cod, cabbage, serrano chili pepper, and remaining lemon zest. Pour into prepared dish. Top with bread cubes, remaining Emmental and Cheddar cheeses. Bake
for 10 to 12 minutes or until top is golden brown.

7. Serve immediately, sprinkled with tarragon and a very light squeeze of lemon.

Visit the Dairy Farmers of Canada to find out the winner of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off by clicking HERE.

Visit the Dairy Farmers of Canda online:
Twitter: @dfc_plc  

Visit Chef Thompson Tran online:
Twitter: @foodwoodenboat 
Instagram: @foodwoodenboat

Jan Halvarson

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