Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gluten Free Mac 'n Cheese -- First attempt

Who doesn't love a good mac 'n cheese? There's something so comforting and warm about it, and I love how you can customize it to your tastes. Last week, we had an eight lb ham that we needed to use up, so I decided to chop some up and make mac 'n cheese with some ham and spinach. I figured I could use brown rice pasta, and safe cheese, but I didn't think about the cheese sauce.

The problem is that I start all of my cheese sauces with a bechamel -- start a roux with butter and flour, then add milk and whisk until creamy. Obviously, the flour was an issue, so I went to my pantry to see what kind of gluten-free flours I had. I found potato flour, so I figured, why not? It should work, right?

Nope. Miserable failure. The potato flour clumped up and didn't dissolve when I added the milk, so it looked like baby formula mixed with mashed potatoes. Gross. I had to ditch the whole shebang.

I instead skipped the flour, and whisked butter and milk together. Then I added American cheese, goat cheese, salt/pepper, garlic powder, and waited until it got hot. I mixed some corn starch with water, then dumped it in, brought it to a boil, and then took it off the heat. It cooled to just the right texture, and I poured it over the cooked noodles with some ham that had been sauteed with spinach. I threw some shredded cheddar on top, and then popped it in the oven for half an hour. The brown rice pasta held up well, surprisingly, and it ended up being a decent -- though not stellar -- mac 'n cheese.

Lesson to be learned? Potato flour CANNOT be used to make a roux. I may try tapioca flour next time, or corn flour, and see how that works instead. According to the interwebs, arrowroot flour works well as a rue. I've also used brown rice flour to make a roux for turkey gravy, though I don't know how it would work with milk.

Other fun ideas for mac 'n cheese:
  • Ditch half of the milk/cream and add pureed steamed/roasted cauliflower instead. It adds a really nice nuttiness to the dish, and helps work in vegetables. 
  • Use a half cup of Greek yogurt to replace some of the cream.
  • Puree some butternut squash as a replacement for some of the cream.
  • Bacon. Bacon bacon bacon. BACON.


  1. Here's one I've made a couple of times (with my alterations, but it doesn't include flour in the first place so you don't have to find a substitute there):

  2. Ooh, that sounds good. It's a tricky balancing act because Brian doesn't like cheese or cream. Yeah, I know. I generally half to replace half of the cream with something else, like pureed butternut squash or cauliflower, before he's okay to eat it. This will be one I make when he's traveling for work or something! Thanks for the recipe!