Thursday, September 2, 2010
Celia's Gluten-Free Mac N' Cheese
(a wee guest post from our chef-in-residence)
So, I'm sure that those of you who've been reading ESB for a while know that she isn't exactly best friends with Mr. Gluten. I gave her a modified recipe for my mac n' cheese, and since she has some gluten intolerant readers out there, she asked me to share it with you as well. I'm usually not a fan of switching up recipes because you lose so much of what the dish is really about, but this one is definitely a winner in my book. (On that note, if you're lactose intolerant, you should probably skip the whole mac n' cheese pipe dream all together and go make yourself some tacos or something.)
Gluten-Free Mac N' Cheese
16 oz. pasta
4 cups heavy cream
(roughly) 1 1/2 cups cheese
First, cook your pasta to al dente, drain and set aside. Yes, I know you can't eat regular pasta... BUT you can use rice pasta which they sell at every Trader Joe's across the country. I also came across this corn pasta at a local gourmet shop the other day, and although I have not tried it, I think it's safe to say it would work just as well. Don't feel restricted to just elbows either. Rotelli, ribbed penne and shells are all lovely choices for mac n' cheese too. As far as portions go, I would say that one 16 oz. package of pasta is enough for four healthy servings.
Next up is making the bechamel. Traditional bechamel requires flour, but I came across a cream sauce by Ina Garten a few years ago that only uses cream. Keep in mind that you MUST use heavy cream for this technique, or it will not work. No cutting corners with half & half, or SOY MILK for fuck's sake. You're making mac n' cheese here, which in no way goes hand in hand with counting calories, mkay? As I was saying, put 4 cups of heavy cream in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Keep the cream at a boil for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will see that it will slowly start to thicken and become the consistency of a very smooth and silky cream sauce.
Now it's time to add the cheese (hooray!). Once your sauce has come to the perfect consistency, take it off of the heat. I've found that mixing the cheese in while it's still on the burner often leads to the sauce separating. Which is totally fine, it's just doesn't make for an attractive looking sauce. I like to use a combination of cheddar, parmesan and chevre* for my mac, and honestly, I do this completely to taste. I find the cheddar makes the sauce rich, the parmesan adds flavor, and the chevre gives it an unexpected kick. You can use whichever cheeses you'd like, but I think three different ones is best. I would use about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of all the cheeses combined for each cup of cream sauce (you want it cheesy, don't you?). Slowly whisk them in until melted and fully incorporated. If the sauce starts to cool and it's not melting the cheese very well, put it back on the burner for a minute just to bring the heat back up. Taste your sauce and season to taste.
Toss the sauce with your pasta over low-medium heat to bring it all back up to temperature. You can serve it like this or put it in a baking dish, top with gluten-free bread crumbs, and bake until golden and bubbly.
OPTIONAL: I toss in roasted garlic, halved grape tomatoes and baby arugula to my mac. For some reason, it makes me feel better about eating something that is VERY bad for me. I've also come across versions that incorporate peas, mushrooms, or chopped up bacon... all of which are so good!
(Photo by Peonies and Polaroids, our food-photographer-in-residence)
*Editor's Note: Don't be intimidated by the fancy chef lingo. Chevre = goat cheese, which you can also find at Trader Joe's.