Last night, I made gluten-free macaroni & cheese for dinner. I used quinoa flour pasta, rice flour to thicken the sauce and gluten-free breadcrumbs for the crunchy topping. Over all the taste was great! My sister joined us and she and my husband didn’t like the “grainy texture” from the breadcrumbs I used on top. Well, let them eat wheat!
Products I used:
Ancient Harvest Quinoa SuperGrain Pasta ($2.88 / 8 ounce box at Foods for Living)
This may be my new favorite pasta (wheat or no wheat). It has a great clean taste and not at all like the gummy taste that I was finding in rice flour pasta. I’m looking forward to trying this again.
Bob’s Red Mill Brown Rice Flour ($3.79 / 24 ounce bag at Meijer)
I have just been using straight rice flour substituting it for all-purpose flour, but I need to experiment more with this. I find that rice flour has a bit of graininess to it that I don’t always enjoy. I see that most gluten-free products are a mixture of flours and often use potato starch. My next project is to start playing around with ratios to find what I like best.
Gillian’s Foods Bread Crumbs ($5.65 / 12 ounce container at Foods for Living)
These were the deal breaker for my family. I didn’t mind them, but agree a better substitute can be found. Cooks Illustrated never likes commercial breadcrumbs and always recommends making your own from “good quality white bread” in the food processor. I will try this next time.
Now you are probably interested in my recipe. I don’t have one, but this is how I make my mac & cheese:
I cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. I usually cook 16 ounces dry pasta. Drain.
I melt a stick of butter in a large pot (I usually use the one I cooked the pasta in). When melted, I whisk in about 1/2 cup of flour. Allow that to cook a few minutes, whisking frequently to cook out the flour taste. I then slowly whisk in milk until I make the amount of sauce I want and cook until it is the right consistency (no longer thin). I probably use about 3 – 4 cups of milk. I prefer to have a really saucy mac & cheese, so make a large amount of sauce.
Salt and pepper the sauce and add about 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg. Once this is well blended, I add about 2 – 4 cups of grated cheese, one handful at a time. I like to grate my own versus purchasing pre-shredded cheeses. Depending on my mood, I will use a variety of types. My favorite old standby is sharp cheddar. I like the sharper, stronger flavored cheeses because milder cheeses tend to fade against the pasta.
Once all the cheese is incorporated, I turn this mixture out into a greased baking dish. Melt about 4 tablespoons butter and mix in 1/2 cup or so of breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this over the top of the casserole. (This step can be omitted, I like the crunch.)
Bake 30 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven until hot and bubbly. If the top hasn’t browned, I turn on the broiler just for about 1 minute, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.
This casserole will serve 8 and freezes beautifully. Bon Appetit!