Ode to Creamy Mac And Cheese!
Oh, how I long for thee
But with your glutenous ways
I rarely prepare ye
Ah, I’m a happy girl. Happy, I say, happy!! Why, you ask, am I so happy? Well, I just figured out how to make an oh so creamy mac and cheesy that’s gluten free. And, guess what? It will work marvelously for you wheat eaters, too! This is good news because this recipe, I’m sure, can be varied in so many ways that I’m actually going to consider this a base recipe to be added upon and embellished based upon your fridge contents. Yep, I humbly ask that you try this, tweak it, and let me know what you did.
For some unknown reason, out of the blue, I started thinking about mac and cheese today. The weather has turned cooler (boo!) and a comfort meal was in order. My littlest mac eater endured surgery on her toe last Friday, and she misses eating mac and cheese (she’s my gluten free-er), plus my oldest mac eater gal loves mac and cheese, so I knew this meal would be well received. This is where I give kudos to my guardian angel. Not only did I think about mac and cheese, but for reasons not yet known, I thought about using evaporated milk to make it creamy. I have never used evaporated milk before in cooking. Never! Nada! So imagine my surprise when I was shopping today and I ended up in the baking aisle (my cart and I rarely venture down the baking aisle). Not one to mess with fate, I looked at the evaporated milk offerings and guess what was on the label? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Ahem. On the can was a recipe for mac and cheese! (Insert twilight zone music here.)
Sooooo, I grabbed a couple cans, gave a wink in what I hope was the general location of my guardian angel (poor thing works a lot of overtime for me), and set off for home.
The recipe on the can was for regular pasta, but it really didn’t take much to tweak it for gluten free pasta. I used Tinkyada brand rice elbows for the pasta part and a mix of 3 shredded cheeses plus Parmesan for oomph. I also decided to bake it with a crunchy topping. Now, you wheat eaters can use seasoned bread crumbs. For you gluten free-ers, try this. It’s WONDERFUL! Substitute Rice Chex for breadcrumbs.Rice Chex by General Mills is gluten free!Just pop some in a bag, squeeze out the air, and seal.Simply smoosh the bag with your hands or with a can or the side of a plate. I used the evaporated milk can. Then treat these as you would for bread crumbs. I melted a pat of butter, dumped in the crushed chex (yep, dumped), sprinkled with seasonings, and let cool. I then added about a ¼ cup of grated Parmesan to it, and set it aside until the mac and cheese was ready to go in the oven. Here’s how you make the yummiest mac and cheese!
1 lb of pasta, cooked al dente
2 cans evaporated milk (that’s evaporated, NOT condensed)
4 generous cups of grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar, medium cheddar, and gruyere)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Rice Chex Topping
(See what's missing? No roux! No flour!)Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large dutch oven, preferably non stick, heat the canned milk and the 4 cups of cheese over medium heat.NOTE: I used Sharp Cheddar, Medium Cheddar, and Gruyere. Feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses, just be sure to incorporate something strong in the mix (like the sharp). Stir until melted. Gently fold in the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with the peppers (or whatever seasoning you like -- my cheese was on the salty side, you may want to add salt or seasoned salt here). Pour the cooked, drained pasta into the dutch oven and stir gently.You can serve it this way. It’s ultra creamy and oh, so good!Or, you can pour it into the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with the chex topping, and bake covered for 15 minutes, and then remove the cover and bake 5 min more! YUM!It looked so pretty on these darling dark brown plates. I wish I had more photos (uh, better photos) for you, but the troops were literally standing over me wanting their servings. This mac and cheese is WONDERFUL! Very creamy and that crunchy topping was a perfect match. I served ours with magnificent sauteed chicken medallions and a side of broccoli. Mmmm ... Sooo good. Of course, since it was guardian angel inspired, what else could it be? How about you, what has inspired you lately?