Years ago during South by Southwest, my husband and I snuck out for a meal by ourselves. We ended up at the Moonshine Grill in downtown Austin. On the menu was an amazing macaroni and cheese with spicy green peppers. The moment we returned home, I started trying to recreate this recipe.
Over time, I stopped trying to make Moonshine’s mac and cheese, focusing instead on making my own. My ever-faithful bookclub has cheerfully (and hungrily) endured my experiments over the years, and there was only one major failure. Note to all: soymilk is not a good substitute for real milk in this instance.
You live, you learn.
From my perspective, the key to good mac and cheese is a mix of cheeses that bring appropriate meltiness and flavor. As a rule, I rely upon good old-fashioned regular milk when making my cheese sauce, but have, once or twice, tried out evaporated milk. The latter does add an interesting creaminess to the sauce…and that weird evaporated milk smell completely disappears in the sauce.
Needless to say, this recipe makes excellent leftovers. I do find that gluten-free pastas tend to absorb a lot of sauce, so I tend to go heavy on the sauce, lighter on the noodles.
Macaroni and Cheese
By June 1, 2013Published:
- Yield: 6 Servings
- Prep: 15 mins
- Cook: 35 mins
- Ready In: 50 mins
Gluten-free or not, homemade mac and cheese is tasty comfort food at its finest. I like mine with a little spicy heat to counter the cheese sauce.
- 1 pound gluten-free elbow macaroni or any other shape you have available since many times we're limited on our GF-pasta shape options
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons white rice flour
- 3 -4 cups milk warmed; or 2 cans evaporated milk plus two cans water
- 3 - 4 cups shredded cheese (2 cups sharp cheddar, 1 cup Gruyere, 1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, or your own mix of cheeses)
- cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
- grainy Dijon mustard to taste (optional)
- green chilies diced (optional)
- salt and pepper as needed (I usually just add pepper)
- gluten-free panko bread crumbs (optional)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, add the pasta, and cook until slightly underdone. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the rice flour, and cook for a few minutes. The rice flour will brown slightly.
- Slowly add the warm milk to the roux (flour and butter mix), whisking constantly to avoid lumps. The milk will thicken quickly, but don’t worry if the final mix isn’t thick — the sauce will get thicker later with the addition of the cheese.
- Add the cheeses, a cup or so at a time. Stir as the cheese melts.
- Taste your sauce! Note that it’s already a bit salty. Add cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste. If you’re a mustard person, a few spoonfuls make for a really interesting mac and cheese. The green chilies, especially if you’re not using a pepper Jack cheese, add some lovely heat — not too much, of course, but just enough to make people take note of the flavor.
- Butter a large-ish casserole dish — something big enough to hold the macaroni and cheese sauce. Add the macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, mix thoroughly. I like mine with lots of sauce; the pasta absorbs sauce while baking.
- Cover the mac and cheese with breadcrumbs, and pop the casserole into the oven for 35 − 40 minutes, or until the cheese is hot and bubbly and the top is browned.