Last weekend we had a family birthday party at my Sister’s house. A real Southern BBQ with the most delicious smoked brisket and chicken, and two different kinds of Mac N Cheese-regular and spicy, the spicy dotted with jalapeno. All prepared by my Brother-In-Law.
For dessert, my Sister made Spice Cake (an old family favorite) and Strawberry Cupcakes. Both perfectly frosted with her homemade icing, which is always spot on and never too sweet. She must have inherited the “Icing Gene” as I always have disastrous results with icing.
Everything was wonderful and we left the party stuffed to the gills. Several days later I was craving BBQ and Mac N Cheese again! I do not have a smoker and use my grill for some improvised BBQ but it just isn’t the same. So it was up to the Mac N Cheese to do the job.
Macaroni and cheese is very Southern to me. It is a staple at every family barbecue and every BBQ restaurant and Meat & 3 across the South. It has been a staple in my home since my children were little. One of my daughters ate so much Mac N Cheese and other cheese products growing up, she earned the nickname “the dairy queen.”
Now when I make it, it has to be Gluten Free for my other daughter. I tried several Gluten Free recipes for Mac N Cheese before settling on this recipe. This one reminds me the most of family barbecues and uses some of the same spices I use in my barbecue rubs. When using my favorite Gluten Free pasta, my family cannot tell that this Mac N Cheese is Gluten Free.
Find a good Gluten Free pasta you love and cook and drain it 2 minutes before the package directions say it will be done. This will help prevent that mushy GF pasta texture. The pasta will soak up some of the sauce and continue cooking a little while it bakes.
If you are not on a GF diet, this recipe is also delicious with regular pasta, follow the same directions for draining it 2 minutes before it is done.
Southern Gluten Free Mac N Cheese
1 eight ounce package Gluten Free pasta, cooked and drained according to package directions (subtract 2 minutes from suggested cooking time)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground mustard
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons potato starch
3 cups milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheese (or 6 ounces sliced cheese-I use a combination of Swiss cheese and cheddar-reserve ½ cup or 2 ounces for top)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place cooked and drained pasta into your oven safe casserole dish and set aside.
Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add salt, dry spices, and potato starch and toast in the butter for 2 minutes. You aren’t looking for color on the starch as in a roux with flour, just lightly cooking it to get rid of the raw starch flavor.
Add the milk, bring to boiling and boil gently, stirring, for 3 minutes. The sauce (you just made a bechamel!) will start to thicken. Reduce heat to low.
Temper the egg by removing ½ cup sauce from the pan and drizzling slowly into the beaten egg, beating while drizzling it in. Then, drizzle egg mixture slowly back into the sauce, whisking to keep the egg from curdling. When all the egg is incorporated, add the honey or sugar, and cheese.
Make sure you keep the honey to just one teaspoon, too much and the acid in it will curdle your sauce. If you’re worried about it, just leave it out. I like a pinch of honey or sugar in my sauce to point up the flavor.
Stir until cheese is melted and remove from heat. Taste sauce to adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Pour over pasta in a large casserole dish, stirring to fully coat. Top with grated cheese and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
This Mac N Cheese will puff slightly while it bakes thanks to the addition of the potato starch and egg!