Homemade Mac and Cheese

I was going to post this yesterday, but an incredibly rare opportunity presented itself; it was 69° here in Colorado yesterday! So, my husband and I dusted off the motorcycle and when for a glorious January ride. What a sense of freedom. Sometimes I just feel the need . . . the need for speed.

So, anyways, that is why I didn’t get this post out sooner. So, back to my other hobby, creating comfort food, and nothing says comfort food like good ol’ mac and cheese. For over a year I have occasionally eaten mac and cheese from boxed mixes and Annie’s gluten free pasta is one of my favorites. But it’s just not the same as I remember. Then I found the Gluten-Free Girl’s post on homemade mac and cheese and I knew I wanted to make some. My recipe is adapted from what I saw on her post.

I started by cooking up a 12 oz bag of gluten-free elbow pasta from my favorite brand Tinkyada.

Then shredded 1 cup of Tillamook medium cheddar cheese, and one cup of Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyere. I first tried Tillamook cheese when I was about 13 and babysitting two adorable girls that kept disappearing into the kitchen to snitch slices of Tillamook cheddar cheese. When I discovered what they were doing I of course did what any good babysitter would do, and joined in and I have been hooked ever since! I still think of you, Katie and Sarah, every time I slice some of my own Tillamook!

Both Tillamook and Roth Käse address concerns with gluten on their websites. Click here to see Tillamook’s statement and here for Roth Käse’s FAQ pertaining to gluten (it’s the fifth FAQ listed).

Next we warmed 1/2 cup of milk (I used Lactaid milk) in a saucepan along with 2 Tablespoons butter. The original recipe called for 1 stick of butter, but after experimenting, I really do not think the added calories are necessary. We added a slurry of 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and a little warm water. It thickened almost instantly. Then we slowly added the 2 cups of cheese, while stirring.

Next we poured the pasta back into the creamy, cheesy mixture and thoroughly coated all the pasta. We decided to transfer the mac and cheese into a casserole dish so we could broil it and sprinkled a bit of paprika on top.

While broiling,  I cracked open the oven door after a few minutes to peek if it was done and amazing crackling sounds of the butter and cheese greeted me. Wonderful aromas of cheesy goodness wafted out of the oven and I grew frustrated that I wouldn’t be able to share this sensory experience with my readers. I remember Emeril Lagasse saying what a shame it is that he didn’t have Smell-O-Vision for his TV audience. At that moment I realized that I could share two of the sensory experiences with you . . .

Ready to make some mac and cheese? I basically already have the recipe above, but below is a more concise version. Again, this recipe is adapted from Gluten-Free Girl’s “the first meal I ever cooked”.

Brooke’s Gluten-Free Bites Homemade Mac and Cheese

1 12 oz bag of gluten-free pasta (we use Tinkyada elbow pasta)
1 cup shredded medium cheddar cheese (we love Tillamook)
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (we used Roth Käse) Gouda is a great substitute
1/2 cup milk (or milk alternative)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons warm water
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
pinch of paprika (optional)

Start boiling water for the pasta. Shred the cheeses. Feel free to substitute your favorite cheeses. I like at least half to be some type of cheddar and I am particularly fond of medium cheddar, but feel free to experiment! Once the pasta is in the water cooking, start warming the milk (or milk substitute) and butter in a separate pan. I chose a pan large enough so that I could add the pasta to the mix later. Warm, but do not scald the milk/butter mix. Make a slurry of 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and about 2 Tablespoons warm water. I like using an old jam jar to mix slurries (that’s what my parents always do!) and put the lid on to shake it up. While stirring the warm milk and butter, slowly pour the slurry in. It should thicken almost instantly. Add handfuls of cheese while stirring and you will start to have a nice and gooey cheesy mixture. Keep warm until the pasta is done. I found my Tinkyada elbow pasta was perfectly al dente after 19 mins. The package says 16-17, but I am at altitude and so it took a little longer. Run the pasta under cool water to stop the pasta from cooking any more. Pour the pasta into the cheese mixture and stir to coat the pasta completely. You can add salt and pepper to taste if desired. If you want the top of the mac and cheese to be crispy, turn the oven onto broil and pour the mac and cheese into an oven safe dish. You can sprinkle a bit of Paprika over the top if you want to. Pop it into the oven for a few minutes and remove when the top layer is a golden brown. No matter how tempted you are, I do not recommend filming the broiling process with the oven door open like I did.

Try not to burn your tongue and ENJOY!!

Other tips:

We have also made this with 1 cup of Gouda instead of Gruyere and I thought it was wonderful, though my Kraft-mac-and-cheese hubby felt it had a little “twang” and prefers Gruyere! I like both.

Good quality cheeses can be pricey, but I was happy to find a “mini” 4 oz package of Roth Käse Gruyere shredded was just about 1 cup and didn’t break the bank! Oh, and to save money I also wait for Tillamook to go on sale and buy a large “loaf” and then freeze some of it.

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2 Responses to Homemade Mac and Cheese

  1. Julie says:

    I have always liked the toasted bread crumbs on top of homemade Mac and Cheese. Were you tempted to try some gluten free bread crumbs?

  2. gfbrooke says:

    I know a lot of people like bread crumbs on top, but I am just not a fan. Once Jeremy sprinkled a little extra cheese over the top and then browned it under the broiler, and that was pretty yummy!

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