For the FOUR INGREDIENT VERSION, omit italicized ingredients and steps.
The cheese: 5 C packed shredded cheese (for 4 ingredient version, use 6 oz. cheddar + 6 oz. soft cheese of choice)
- 8 oz. mild cheddar (yellow for color, if you like; keep one cup separate)
- 4 oz. havarti (or another very soft cheese)
- 3 oz. gouda (a creamy, non-aged gouda)
- 1/2 lb. (4-6 slices) bacon (preferably thick cut, uncured/nitrate free)
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream (since there’s no roux, I wouldn’t advise substituting any type of milk or half and half—the pure cream adds thickness)
- 1/4 t sea or Kosher salt (plus more for the water)
- 1/4 t ground white or black pepper
- 1 lb. gluten-free brown rice pasta
- 1 C green chile salsa
- Remove cheese from the refrigerator to stand at room temperature for one hour. Leave one cup of grated cheddar in the refrigerator.
- If using bacon, cook in the oven (see link above) or pan fry while the cheese finishes resting. Drain bacon on a couple layers of paper towels. Chop bacon into bite sized pieces, about ½ inch (not bacon bits) and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and make the cheese sauce in the meantime. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium heat. Continue to raise heat, if needed, so the cream just begins to boil softly. A skin may form on the surface, which is fine—you don’t need to stir it. Turn off heat.
- Add the grated, room temperature cheese and the salt and pepper to the hot cream and whisk quickly until the cheese is completely melted, a couple minutes. Set aside or refrigerate. (I suspect you could freeze the sauce but I haven’t tested it.)
- Once the water boils, add pasta and cook to al dente. Here’s my exact timing: set timer for 6 minutes 30 seconds, maintaining high heat and returning to a boil. Turn off heat and allow pasta to sit in water for 30 more seconds, then drain, but don’t rinse. Pasta should be quite al dente. It will continue to cook in the oven, and the worst thing you can do to gluten-free noodles is overcook them.
- Remove ¾ C cheese sauce from the pan you prepared it in. To the remaining sauce, add the pasta and the chopped bacon. Stir well.
- To assemble, distribute mac and cheese amongst four large ramekins or pour into a medium sized (1.5 to 2 qt.) casserole dish. Pour remaining cheese sauce over the top. Spread ¼ C green salsa over each ramekin (or 1 C over the casserole), if using. Top with 1 C grated cheddar. Place ramekins on a baking tray for easier handling.
- Bake (at 375) for about 20 minutes, or until cheddar is melted and beginning to brown. Cool for 5 minutes. If serving in ramekins, place each on a plate or potholder and be sure to caution your diners about the hot vessels!
Gluten free; omit bacon to make it meatless/vegetarian.
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Comfort Food