This recipe really doesn't differ much from the Classic Mac & Cheese. Naturally, the pasta is gluten-free, and instead of flour, the thickener is cornstarch. There are other thickeners you can use instead, including gluten-free all-purpose flour or amaranth flour. As for pasta choices, there's rice-based pasta, quinoa pasta, and myriad others. For that, you're best off experimenting and finding the one you like the most. I think the quinoa variety works particularly well and acts the most like the flour-based pastas.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces gluten-free small elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for baking dish
- 2 cups gluten-free, coarse, fresh bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about Yi medium onion)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 cups whole or reduced-fat milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (about 2 cups)
- 6 ounces cheddar cheese, preferably orange, coarsely grated (2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an 8-inch square (1 1/2-quart) baking dish or pan (or six 8-ounce ramekins). Set aside.
Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about three-quarters full with water and add 1 tablespoon of the salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, 8 to 10 minutes, and drain. Reserve the pot.
Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano and cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are a deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully, because they can burn easily. The crumbs will continue to crisp as they cool.
Remove immediately from the heat and set aside. (Note: These can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.)
Using the same pot you used to cook the pasta, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cornstarch and stir constantly until a paste forms, 30 to 45 seconds. Continue stirring for 1 to 2 minutes more, until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty. Slowly whisk in the milk, cream, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until the mixture is just beginning to thicken and bubble around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the Gruyere, V/i cups cheddar, mustard powder, and cayenne and cook until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it's soupy, continue cooking until it thickens.
Add the pasta, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and top with the bread crumb mixture. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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