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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.
- 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
- 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. 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