One of the foods I have missed the most since my diagnosis of gluten-intolerance is Mac and Cheese. It has been one of my standard meals my entire life and now I can’t have it anymore – at least not in the traditional way.
When I saw that today’s topic for Food Network’s Sensational Sides was Cheesy Goodness, I immediately wanted to make Mac and Cheese. But how could I change it up to suit my new dietary restrictions? While of course I could make it with gluten-free pasta, I wanted something a little more unusual. Cooked rice wouldn’t hold up to the cheese sauce, quinoa is too small and would be lost. Potatoes! Potatoes in a cheese sauce would be perfect and I headed into the kitchen to create a fun new treat.
Traditional mac and cheese is made with a classic roux-thickened base made with butter, flour and milk. To convert this to gluten-free I used a wonderful product called Choice Batter®. Have you discovered it yet? Made from rice flour and seasonings, it is designed specifically for use to create gluten-free batter fried foods such as chicken or shrimp. But it is also great as a thickener and I immediately thought it would add a great flavor to this dish.
Choice Batter® is flavored with salt, leavening, spices, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and celery seeds. They are all complementary flavors for cheddar cheese. It certainly makes it easy because you really don’t need to add any additional seasonings to it. It is also completely gluten, wheat, egg, dairy, nut, soy, and corn free. If you are cooking for someone with multiple allergies, this is a product you want to keep stocked in your pantry!
I happened to have some beautiful Kerrygold cheeses in the refrigerator that were perfect for this sauce. The Dubliner has just a touch of sharpness, The Aged Cheddar is nice and smooth, and the Monterey Jack from Tillamook is creamy and silky. The blend of the three gave the sauce a lovely velvety texture.
While this is designed as a side dish, it is also hearty enough to be a vegetarian main course. You can serve it with some fresh fruit and a green salad and everyone will be fully satisfied.
You can think of it the same way as you would if it were the traditional pasta dish. When I was growing up, my mother served it as the main course because it was inexpensive to feed our entire family, but most people consider it a side dish. I served this alongside some pan-seared chicken for a very filling meal and it would also be wonderful with grilled meats and vegetables.
Can I tell you, I love this dish. It is ooey, gooey good, the perfect definition of comfort food, right?! Make it when you have a large group of people coming over or when your neighbors will be home to take some of the leftovers otherwise you may just eat the entire dish!
It has been such fun exploring the world of Sensational Sides. This is the last week of side dishes and I can’t wait to hear what the next topic will be! Make sure you check out the other recipes listed below from the incredible writers on this team.
Have a wonderful week!
Using Choice Batter® or another gluten-free flour blend as the thickener keeps this sauce gluten-free and you get a nice substitution for traditional roux-based sauces.
- 3 lb (about 10 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (no need to peel unless you are using Russets)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt (preferably Diamond Crystal; if using another brand of kosher salt, reduce to 2 tsp; if using table salt reduce to 1-1/2 tsp)
- Cheese Sauce
- 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
- 1/4 cup gluten-free Choice Batter®,regular all-purpose flour*, or gluten-free all-purpose flour*
- Pinch crushed dried Aleppo chilies, optional
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups milk (gluten-free flours may require the extra liquid)
- 1/3 cup grated onion (squeeze out excess moisture before measuring)
- 15 oz white cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 oz Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder (for a nice touch of smokiness)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Paprika for garnish
- *If you are using Choice Batter, it is very well seasoned and you don’t need to add much more. If you are using plain GF or regular all-purpose flour, add a little garlic and onion powder, more salt and pepper, and a little extra thyme.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Prepare the Potatoes: Place the potato cubes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by at least 1-inch. Sprinkle with the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until potatoes are about halfway done, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the potato cubes. You will have to press fairly hard to insert the tines of a fork into the potato cube.
- Strain through a sieve or colander, transfer to a very large mixing bowl and set aside while you make the cheese sauce.
- Make the Cheese Sauce: Melt butter in the same saucepan you used to cook the potatoes over medium heat. Sprinkle your flour choice over the butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated and there are no lumps. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking often, or until raw aroma is gone and the mixture smells a little “toasty”.
- Slowly add in a small amount of the milk, whisking constantly. Continue to add the milk, a little at a time, and whisking well between additions to make sure you don’t have any lumps. When all the milk has been incorporated, bring the mixture to a boil and cook, whisking frequently, until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Make sure your mixture is as thick as you want because this is the last time you will be able to cook the sauce at a boil. If it is too thick (you want it the consistency of gravy)
- Remove from heat. Add the cheeses and onion and stir until melted. Return to low heat if needed to melt the cheese but to not let it boil or the sauce will break. Don’t worry if there are a few stubborn pieces of cheese that haven’t quite melted, as they will finish while it is cooking in the oven. Add the chipotle pepper, taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days. To reheat the sauce, place in a saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through.
- Pour the sauce over the potatoes (you do not need to use all of the sauce) in the large mixing bowl and stir, tossing gently until the potatoes are completely and evenly coated with the sauce. Transfer to the prepared baking pan**, sprinkle the top with paprika, and place in the hot oven.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling throughout. Carefully remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Make sure you do not fill the pan all the way to the rim, as it will bubble up a little as it heats. If it is very full, save yourself some clean up and place the pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips.
- Yield: about 6 to 8 servings
Create a New Tradition Today!
Check out all these other delicious recipes from the incredibly talented team of writers:
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Fresh Tomato Burrata Cheese Pesto Dip
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Asparagus With Balsamic Vinegar and Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Red or Green: Grilled Vegetable and Cheese Quesadillas
Feed Me Phoebe: Skillet Lasagna With Zucchini, Arugula and Fontina Cheese
Cooking With Elise: Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas
Weelicious: Cheesy Corn on the Cob
Domesticate Me: Seared Scallops With Spring Vegetables
Devour: Cheese-Filled Summer Side Dishes
Made by Michelle: Broccoli Cheese “Meatballs”
Dishin & Dishes: Baked Squash Casserole
FN Dish: Cheesy Spring Sides
The Sensitive Epicure: Frico: Parmesan Cheese Crackers
Virtually Homemade: Easy Cheesy Enchilada (Gluten-Free)
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Great recipe! everyone at home loved it:) Thanks so much
Thank you Leah – I am SO happy you and your family enjoyed this recipe. It is one of my favorites too!
My son has to eat gluten free as he is allergic. This is a great recipe. As a single father, i am always troubled cooking things that are healthy for him. This is amazing. I will definitely try it. Thank you for sharing.
I’m glad to help you Matthews – I hope you and your son enjoy this! All my recipes from August 2012 on include a gluten-free option, so there are lots of recipes to choose from.
After taking up the challenge of my first 5k I have been collecting and trying healthy recipes and was recommended this one. Some of the ingredients admittedly I didnt have so I had to freestyle it a little bit. Turned out pretty good in the end. One of the better Mac & Cheese recipes online!
Congratulations on completing your first 5k challenge Jon! I’m glad you liked this meal and it is perfect for carbo-loading before a race!
Great dish! Tried this recipe and it came out pretty well. Very proud of myself (and you for sharing) 🙂 !
I am So happy to hear that James! Congratulations on making it and I’m happy that you liked it. And thank you for coming back and letting me know! Hugs!!
Jane – this sounds so good – I think I’d prefer this to mac and cheese!
Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
Thank you Jeanette. I think I agree with you – it may be better than Mac & Cheese, at least for an Irish gal, LOL!