When you think of comfort food Macaroni and Cheese HAS to be in the top ten…Maybe even top 5…You can’t mix pasta with cheese and not immediately feel comforted. It could have healing powers we don’t even know about yet!
However, when gluten free peeps think about macaroni and cheese they think about a bad boxed mix, artificial cheese, and an altogether uncomfortable experience.
On the other hand, us gluten free-ers are glad to experience macaroni and cheese at all…It’s a food that ranks right up there with pizza and brownies…can still be eaten in its far inferior form but will never be as enjoyed as much as their gluten FULL counerparts. UNTIL NOW!!!
Remember my Food Network obsession (I lightly call it a”love affair”), but I’ll come clean…It’s kind of an obsession. It IS an obsession. I love all things Food Network. Especially the down home, eat at the dinner table with your family kind of cooks…Nancy Fuller is just that, and I knew her macaroni and cheese would be nothing short of amazing. I was right!
There is a truth to baking something in the oven: “Out of sight out of my mouth”...Stovetop, on the other hand is tragic in the most beautiful “I ate too much while cooking and now I’m not hungry for dinner, but I’ll eat again anyway, kind of way…” This glutton is a sucker for the tragic story every time!
This Gluten Free version of Nancy’s recipe could, possibly, fool even your die hard gluten eaters. Here is the more amazing part. I only changed 2 ingredients: Flour and Noodles!!!
Sometimes people get freaked out about making their own white sauce (I used to be one of those people). With a little patience and the kitchen confidence I know you have you’ll have this sauce mastered in no time.
I’ll let you in on a little secret…It’s the essential building block to making all of these creamy, comforting, home cooked meals you remember go from gluten-FULL to gluten-FREE.
As you are prepping everything else you can have your pot of noodles cooking. I chose macaroni noodles, because Duh, macaroni & cheese, but also because when you are gluten free you don’t always have a choice on noodle shape. I couldn’t find shells. I like to use Barilla gluten free pasta. It holds it’s shape well, is fairly inexpensive for gluten free pasta, and tastes the closest to the real thing. In my opinion.
Melt the butter in the pan until bubbly.
This step is where those who are not comfortable making a white sauce start to sweat. Don’t sweat this! Just add the flour (Pillsbury Gluten Free All Purpose is my favorite a little at a time to incorporate…And guess what? If all of the flour accidentally dumps in at once then whisk it up, no one will be the wiser, and move on with your life. You have macaroni and cheese to make!!!
I like to use the Pillsbury All Purpose Flour Blend. It’s as close to the real thing I have come across. It’s so easy to make the 1 to 1 substitutions for real flour.
Once you have whisked the flour into the butter you want it to cook a minute. I still get nervous I’ll burn the flour and have to start over. However, my worst fears have yet to come true because as soon as you get to the point of not smelling straight flour and the nuttiness of the melted butter starts to come through again you know you got it! Trust yourself…You’ll know.
After the milk and/or cream (in this case a combo of milk and half & half) is incorporated into the butter flour mixture the waiting begins. You cannot speed this process along. There will even be a point where you feel like you did it wrong because the sauce isn’t thickening up. Just be patient. It will get there. When it does it should be the consistency of gravy. Not a paste. it will thicken up with time and CHEESE!
Add the Cheese.
I cut the cream cheese into cubes to make it easier to disperse and melt.
Here is also where you want to add the Dijon Mustard, Paprika, hot sauce, and salt/pepper to your taste.
***It is important to note I turned the heat of the pot at this point because I didn’t want to scorch the cheese. The only thing worse than scorched cheese is scorched chocolate.
Learn how to NOT scorch your chocolate and make dessert with Duff’s brownies (also gluten free). https://kidscooksnbooks.com/2019/03/22/food-network-magazine-duffs-brownies-gluten-free-dessert-first/
Once those noodles are done, or if you prepped them ahead of time, go ahead and dump them in the cheese mixture.
Stir those noodles in so every last one is coated with delicious cheese sauce and try not to eat it straight out of the pot.
The awesome feature of this recipe is that it’s ready in under 30 minutes and its simplicity allows you to play with flavor profiles of the recipe as you get more comfortable.
- Add pepper jack cheese and green chilies to make it ‘south of the border.’
- Add mushrooms and Swiss to make it ‘French Onion.’
- Add canned tomatoes, italian seasoning, and mozzarella to give it a ‘Taste of Italy’
- Add Bacon and cheddar for brunch macaroni and cheese.
- You can also change up the noodle based on what gluten free varieties are available or your mood.
It’s Pretty Easy Being Cheesy,