For me this time of year was always about indulgence, eating, drinking and then more eating. Since I have changed the way I eat, I have cut back on all major indulging. It serves no purpose and both the guilt and the gross heavy, toxic feelings you have afterward, aren’t worth it. All that being said, sometimes you need something rich and decadent. This is about as indulgent as it gets for me these days! Homemade mac and cheese!
I have never cared for most mac and cheese until I started making my own gluten-free version, I found most to be way to heavy and dense. Made with a good quality organic brown rice pasta, organic butter and milk, high quality cheeses (organic if you can find them) and smoked pasture-fed bacon from our wonderful farmer, there is little that can compare. Though this is a bit extreme compared to what I normally eat, there is no reason you can’t enjoy things like this from time to time. The key to everything in life is moderation. I learned that after many years of extreme diets and extreme rules. Should I eat mac and cheese every week or even every month for that matter? Absolutely not. But, I make it a point to make this once or twice a year, I enjoy it so much more and I look forward to it. If made totally from scratch with high quality, organic and fresh ingredients, I believe eating things like this, once in a while, is still better than loading yourself up with those disgusting processed diet foods all the time! I am sure of that. I am able to maintain my 30 lb weight loss and still enjoy decadent things like this from time to time. This is what life is all about, don’t deprive yourself.
Originally I hadn’t planned to add the bacon as this was meant to be a side dish to a delicious roast chicken. However, when I went to pull the chicken out of the fridge, it was still very frozen so I decided we would just eat the mac and cheese as our main course with a bit of bacon on top and a side of sautéed spinach with garlic, and save the chicken for the next night. And we could still enjoy the leftovers later in the week as sides to other meals or for lunch. Bacon is another indulgent item that I don’t partake in very often, but since we bought our 1/2 pig from Sojourner Farms, I find myself cooking with it more than I ever have in my life. I think bacon is wonderful as an accent in dishes and in moderation. It has such a wonderful flavor and that crunch is perfect on top of a homemade mac and cheese like this. Obviously if you aren’t a meat eater or don’t care for meat on your mac and cheese, the bacon can be left off on this. That being said, if you are a meat eater, you can experiment with ham or prosciutto instead. Also, you can certainly play around with different cheeses, I have found that cheddar and Manchego are my favorite, but you can really use any combination that you like.
Gluten-free Mac & Cheese with Bacon
1 pound organic gluten-free brown rice pasta
1 stick (1/4 cup) organic unsalted butter
1/2 cup white rice flour
4 cups organic 2% milk
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Pinch or two of fresh nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Manchego cheese, grated (you can use 2 1/2 cups of any cheese or cheeses you like)
1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
3 slices of farm fresh smoked bacon (pasture-raised), cooked until nicely brown, crumbled or roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 425º F.
Boil, rinse & drain pasta according to directions, cooking until al dente.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, add chopped onion, cook until tender about 7-10 minutes. Add rice flour, stir to form roux. Slowly add milk while stirring, heat until warm and thick. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Add 2 cups of your cheese combination, stir until melted. Set aside the other 1/2 cup. Add your pasta to the cheese and milk mixture, stir until well coated.
Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, bacon and breadcrumbs. Add some fresh ground nutmeg. Bake for 20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.