Kefir Mac & Cheese

This is a rich, indulgent spin on America’s favorite comfort food! I did my best to substitute more nutrient dense and better sourced ingredients (gluten free pasta, grass-fed and some fermented dairy).

I tried a new pasta cooking method, where you add the pasta to cold water and just heat it up. It uses less energy and is faster than boiling a pot first, then adding the pasta. It really works!

Adding kefir in the Bechamel sauce gives it a cheesy aroma and a “head start”. I then add three different cheeses. You could add up to 5 different varieties. I find that semi-firm cheeses like cheddar, gruyere, or manchego have the right meltability factor for making just the right sauce consistency.

Kefir Macaroni & Cheese

Prep Time 45 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Makes 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 225 grams (1/2 lb.) dried pasta (shape that can hold sauce like penne, rotele, or rotini)
  • 170 grams (6 oz.) high quality, semi-firm cheeses (e.g. raw cheddar, asiago, manchego, comte, gruyere, pecorino toscano)
  • 60 grams (2 ounces) unsalted pastured, grass-fed butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 30 grams (3 Tbsp.) flour, any variety, gluten free if desired
  • 475 ml (2 cups) milk keifr see recipe here!
  • 90 ml (3 oz.) heavy cream
  • 2 ml (¼ tsp.) ground white pepper
  • 5 ml (1 tsp.) sea salt, plus more for salting pasta water
  • 20 ml (4 tsp.) white mustard powder
  • 60 grams (1 cup) your favorite potato chips, fried in high quality fat like olive oil, lard, tallow, avocado oil or coconut oil

Optional

  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) salami, cooked bacon, grass fed beef hot dogs, pancetta or other cured meats, diced into 1/4" pieces

Instructions
 

Make Macaroni

  • 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.

Make a Roux

  • 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.

Make Béchamel sauce

  • 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.

Make Cheese sauce

  • 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.

Bake

  • Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
  • Crumble potato chips to coat top of casserole.
  • Bake 20-22 minutes. You may wish to set broiler on low for the last 3 minutes. if you do, keep an eye on it; the crust can burn easily.
  • Let rest 15 minutes.

 

Inspired by an epicurious recipe

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