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, sprouted flour, grass-fed and 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 found 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: 
Fermentation time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. (225g) dried pasta (I use a gluten free brown rice pasta shaped like penne, rotele, or rotini)
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) 60g unsalted pastured, grass-fed butter, plus more for greasing baking dish
  • 3 tablespoons (30g by weight) sprouted flour (wheat or rye), gluten free if desired
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz.) 475 ml milk keifr
  • 3 fluid ounces (90 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 ounces by weight (170g) high quality, semi-firm cheeses (e.g. raw cheddar, asiago, manchego, comte, gruyere, pecorino toscano)
  • 2 ounces of your favorite potato chips, fried in high quality fat like olive oil, lard, tallow, avocado oil or coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) white mustard powder
  • [Optional] ¼ cup salami, cooked bacon, grass fed beef hot dogs, pancetta or other cured meats, diced into ¼" pieces
Instructions
Make Macaroni
  1. Pour dry pasta in a heavy saucepot. Add just enough water to completely cover the pasta and add a heavy pinch of sea salt.
  2. 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.
  3. Shred the cheeses coarsely.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a baking pan (8 or 9 inch square) with butter and set aside.
Make a Roux
  1. Melt butter over low-medium heat in the saucepot.
  2. 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
  1. Stir in the milk and heavy cream and raise heat to medium high.
  2. Whisk constantly to prevent dairy from burning on bottom of pot.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer. When sauce coats the back of a spoon, it's the right thickness.
  4. Add salt, pepper and mustard powder and whisk.
Make Cheese sauce
  1. Add shredded cheeses in 3 batches, ensuring that each batch is completely melted into the pot before adding the next.
  2. Remove from heat and mix pasta into pot well.
  3. If using, stir diced meat into pot.
Bake
  1. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish.
  2. Crumble potato chips to coat top of casserole.
  3. 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.
  4. Let rest 15 minutes.

 

Inspired by an epicurious recipe