Easy Peasy (Gluten-Free) Mac n’ Cheese-y
Everyone’s got their holiday specialties. It just so happens that Mac n’ Cheese has ALWAYS been mine. It probably stems from the fact that I LOVED Stouffer’s Mac n’ Cheese growing up (wouldn’t touch the stuff now, but hey…it was great back then). It used to be such a treat! I even used to choose IT over pizza!
Anyways, I’ve made Mac n’ Cheese every year for Thanksgiving since I was in High School. Now of course, I used to just follow your average recipe, but after my Mom found out she had a serious gluten-sensitivity and I stopped eating grains, I decided to create a version we, as well as our guests, could all enjoy.
And so, was born the recipe below!
It’s gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free. The pasta I used was made of organic quinoa and corn ONLY. There’s even an option to make it dairy-free if you need to go that route.
This is really damn good!
You guys, I’m not just saying this because I love Mac n’ Cheese or because I made this recipe, but but this is really damn good. And, I didn’t realize it would be such a hit, but everyone at our Thanksgiving dinner went bananas over it. I had five people (some of them picky eaters!) ask me for the recipe! A good review from a picky eater is no small feat either.
Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make this recipe
This is also a great potluck dish to pass or an easy one to make ahead of time and eat throughout the week. Just sayin’!
Read on and follow the path to gooey, cheesy, gluten-free goodness (you can choose to make it gooey Stouffer’s style or crispy top Southern style)!
- GLUTEN FREE ROUX
- 5 TBSP butter (or 1/3 C Olive oil to keep it dairy-free)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp gluten free flour (Bob's Red Mill makes a good one)
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- MAC N' CHEESE
- unsalted butter, for the baking dish
- 5 cups grass-fed whole milk (raw or grass-fed)
- 4 large pasture raised egg yolks
- 1 C 8 asiago cheese (raw or grass-fed)
- 1 C white cheddar (raw or grass-fed)
- 1 C American cheddar (raw or grass-fed)
- 1/2 C fontina cheese (raw or grass-fed)
- 1/4 C parmesan cheese (raw or grass-fed)
- 1/2 tspn freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but encouraged!)
- 1 pound gluten-free quinoa elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente (Ancient Harvest is easy to find in stores & totally #tastebudfriendly)
- 1 small bag of potato chips (these chips by Boulder Canyon are kettle cooked in olive oil and are my absolute favorites!)
- BEFORE YA DO ANYTHING, DO THIS... - Butter the bottom and sides baking dish (relatively deep...maybe 2-4 inches or so) and set it to the side. If you like it baked with a crispy top, then preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. If you're like me and you like it gooey, than leave the oven alone.
- START WITH THE GLUTEN FREE ROUX - Heat the butter and olive oil in a stock pot over medium-low heat. Once it's melted, add in gluten free flour and cornstarch a little bit at a time, whisking constantly as you do so. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. You want it to be nice and smooth (no chunks!) like this. Never done this before and are worried about getting it right? Watch this short video by the G-Free Foodie and you'll be all set (her ingredients are a bit different than mine, but technique is what's important here).
- Right about now is when you'll want to start boiling the water to cook your quinoa elbow macaroni.
- MIGRATE TO MAKIN' THE MAC - Once you've got the roux down, whisk in the milk (again adding in a little at a time and whisking constantly). Bring the heat to up high as you do so and let the sauce cook until it's good and thick, about 5-8 minutes (some people use the "until-it-can-coat-the-back-of-a-spoon" technique like this).
- Tired of whisking yet? Hope not, because there's still more, haha. Whisk in the eggs until they've been totally swallowed by your thick, creamy sauce and cook for a couple minutes (about 2 minutes).
- Hopefully you're water is boiling now. So toss in the quinoa elbow macaroni in the water and boil as directed on the box (you want it to be al dente...i.e. not soggy and gross).
- Oh, what. You thought you were done with the whisking? Nope. This is a whisk-happy recipe (it's cool....strong arms 🙂 Just make sure to use both sides to balance out the work). Turn off the heat and whisk in all the different cheeses until completely melted. Make sure to leave behind a sprinkle of each flavor if you want a crispy top. If you're not doing the crispy top, then dump it ALL in 🙂 Sprinkle in the cayenne and pepper and mix.
- You are officially done whisking!
- If you haven't already, drain your quinoa elbow macaroni and add it to the stock pot of cheesy goodness (i.e. the cheese sauce you just made). Stir until it's been completely enveloped. Pour it all into that baking dish that you buttered at the beginning of the whole process.
- IF YOU LIKE IT GOOEY - Now here's where it gets controversial. If it were me, I would then serve it nice and warm, as is. But then again, I am a former Stouffer's microwaveable GOOEY mac n' cheese lover (yes, I admit it...it was a guilty pleasure of mine when I was in elementary school). Sorry, I'm just not a crunchy top kinda girl.
- IF YOU LIKE IT CRISPY TOP - But if you are, then you shouldn't suffer through the goo when you can have your cake and eat it too! Follow the last few steps below to get a nice crunchy top to your baked Mac n ' Cheese. Crush all of your chips into smithereens. Combine the chips with a sprinkle of each of the cheeses in a bowl, spread it over the top of your gooey mac n' cheese. Bake for about 12-15 minutes. You want the top to be a nice, light, golden-brown color.
- Take your baked mac n' cheese out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes.
- Serve your warm and gooey or possibly crispy top mac n' cheese to your ecstatic guests (bet their mouths are watering!).
- *So roux is just a French word for the base of a thick and usually creamy sauce...it's the secret to making really gooey, really cheesy mac and cheese.
- *This recipe can get expensive, FAST. I go ALL OUT for the holidays, but any other time, I just choose between 1-3 of my favorite cheese on the ingredients list above. It tastes amazing even with JUST ONE CHEESE.
- *If you need to go dairy free, use Daiya Cheese as a substitute for regular cheese and coconut milk as a substitute for regular milk. It melts really nicely and tastes wonderful! And it's soy and crap-free!