Saturday, April 11, 2009

crock pot macaroni and cheese

When we go to flyball tournaments, we have a big potluck for lunch and snacks during the day. This ensures we have a hot meal during cold months, and makes it easier on everyone since you're only responsible for one or two portions of the meal and not all of it. Since we have both vegetarians and meat-eaters on the team, we usually have two hot meals to suit both preferences. At our first tournament this year, Lindsey made macaroni and cheese in her crock-pot, and it turned out so smashingly well that I tried it with gluten-free pasta last weekend. It worked out just as well, and so I made it again today for us to have while raiding tonight.

The original recipe that Lindsey used came from this blog. The comments show that replicating the recipe can be hit or miss, which I suspect comes from different heating levels in different crock pots, amount of stirring used while cooking, and amount and type of cheese used.

Flyball Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese (serves 8-10)
2 12oz packages of Bionaturae Gluten-Free elbow pasta
3 8oz packages of shredded cheese (I used Tillamook cheese, one sharp cheddar, one medium cheddar, and one cheddar-jack)
6 cups of 2% milk
3 eggs
Salt, pepper, ground mustard, paprika to taste

1. Prepare crock-pot with a crock-pot liner
2. Whisk eggs together in a small container
3. Add a small amount of the milk (about 1/2 cup or so) and mix in with eggs
4. Add dry spices (I used about 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground mustard, and 1/2 tsp paprika with a few grinds of pepper) and mix
5. Dump egg-milk-spice mix into crock pot
6. Add rest of milk to crock pot, you can "rinse" the small container with milk if spices or egg are stuck inside
7. Mix everything in the crock pot thoroughly
8. Add macaroni
9. Add cheese, one package at a time, and mix between additions
10. Cook on low setting for about 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally
11. Cook on high setting until macaroni and cheese is done (another 45-60 minutes)

When you first start cooking, the macaroni will still be at the top of the liquid, but this will change as the cheese melts a bit and the macaroni starts to absorb the liquid. About halfway through the macaroni was all completely submerged and cooking nicely. Occasional stirring is important to ensure you don't get crusty weirdness along the edges of the food while it is cooking, although once it's mostly done then you can let it crust up if you want. The pasta comes out well, perhaps slightly past al dente, but definitely has a good texture and is quite edible.

Crock Pot Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese (serves 4-5)
1 12oz package of Bionaturae Gluten-Free elbow pasta
1.5 8oz packages of shredded cheese (Tillamook medium cheddar)
3 cups of 2% milk
1 egg
3 tsp kosher salt
1.5 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp paprika
Sprinkle of ground pepper

1. Whisk egg in small container, then pour into crock pot (no liner)
2. Add milk to crock pot, whisking to mix evenly with the egg
3. Mix spices together in small bowl, then dump into crock pot and mix evenly with the rest of the liquid
4. Add shredded cheese, mixing with liquid (switch to a spoon at this point)
5. Add macaroni, mixing with liquid and cheese to form as even a mix as possible
6. Cook on low setting for 2 hours, stirring often

Using a whisk was much easier than a fork, as was working directly in the crock pot stoneware itself rather than using a plastic liner. I definitely liked adding the macaroni last, it made the mixing of the cheese much easier. Mixing is also definitely required, this isn't going to be a set-it-and-forget-it recipe, but I had no problems running back to the kitchen every 15 minutes or so to give it a quick stir. The result was even better than the big batch I made last weekend, primarily due to the increase in the salt and spices - we both like slightly salty food, however, so if you are not a fan of salty things then keep to the original salt levels. Additional mustard and paprika were definitely good, however, and I could easily see adding chili peppers if really spicy things are up your alley. You could probably add bits of meat or veggies to it as well, although if/when I try this I plan to be sure they are as "dry" as possible and precooked, so as not to disturb the liquid-pasta balance that is working out so well. Plus the macaroni is definitely not up to meat-safe temperatures, so any meat added would likely be best if something like precooked ham cubes was used.

The macaroni and cheese happily sat on "warm" after it was done cooking for about a half-hour until we ate, and cooled nicely on "off" until after the raid was done and I could portion the remainder out for later. I got four generous portions from this recipe, and probably could easily feed 5 or 6 if there was a side dish to go along with it. As it was, Ezri got to have a bit of leftover mac and cheese.

Yay for laziness!

1 comment:

Linda said...

thank you! sounds yummy - yummy enough to get the goods and try it out today!