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
- 225 grams (1/2 lb.) dried pasta (shape that can hold sauce like penne, rotele, or rotini)
- 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
- 170 grams (6 oz.) high quality, semi-firm cheeses (e.g. raw cheddar, asiago, manchego, comte, gruyere, pecorino toscano)
- 60 grams (1 cup) your favorite potato chips, fried in high quality fat like olive oil, lard, tallow, avocado oil or coconut oil
- 2 ml (¼ tsp.) ground white pepper
- 5 ml (1 tsp.) sea salt
- 20 ml (4 tsp.) white mustard powder
- 60 grams (1/4 cup) salami, cooked bacon, grass fed beef hot dogs, pancetta or other cured meats, diced into 1/4" 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.
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.
- 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