This is a rich, indulgent spin on America’s favorite comfort food! I did my best to sub better ingredients (gluten free pasta, sprouted flour, grass-fed or fermented dairy) to keep it nutrient dense and easy to digest.
I tried a newly discovered pasta cooking method, where you add the pasta to cold water and heat it up. It really works! It uses less energy than boiling a pot first, then adding the pasta. And it saves time!
Adding kefir to the bechamel sauce gives it a cheesy aroma and a “head start”. In fact I “only” added three more cheeses because the kefir tasted like a mild fresh cheese in the final flavor.
- ½ pound dried rotini pasta (I used brown rice pasta)
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) unsalted pastured, grass-fed butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
- 3 tablespoons sprouted wheat (or any kind) of flour, gluten free if desired
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz.) milk keifr
- 3 fluid ounces heavy cream
- 6-8 ounces by weight (200g) high quality, lighter colored soft cheeses (I used a variety like manchego, white raw cheddar and pecorino toscano (sheep's milk cheese)
- 2 ounces of your favorite potato chips, fried in high quality fats like olive oil, lard, tallow, avocado oil or coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 4 teaspoons (20 ml) white mustard powder
- [Optional] ¼ cup salami, cooked bacon, pancetta or other cured meats, diced into ¼" pieces
- Pour dry pasta in a heavy saucepot. Add just enough water to completely cover the pasta and add a heavy pinch of sea salt.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cooking pasta to al dente (1-2 minutes less than you'd normally cook it), about 15 minutes total. Drain and set aside.
- Shred the cheeses coarsely.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a baking pan (8 or 9 inch square) with butter and set aside.
- Melt butter over low-medium heat in the saucepot.
- Add flour slowly, incorporating into the butter with a whisk. Continue stirring until it becomes aromatic and turns golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the milk and heavy cream and raise heat to medium high.
- Whisk constantly to prevent dairy from burning on bottom of pot.
- Lower heat to a simmer. When sauce coats the back of a spoon, it's the right thickness.
- Add salt, pepper and mustard powder and whisk.
- Add shredded cheeses in 3 batches, ensuring that each batch is completely melted into the pot before adding the next.
- Remove from heat and mix pasta into pot well.
- If using, stir diced meat into pot.
- Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
- Crumble potato chips to coat top of casserole.
- Bake 20-22 minutes.
- Let rest 15 minutes.
Inspired by an epicurious recipe