Mac & Cheese & Greens

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Although this recipe tips toward the decadently rich side of the scales, it is one of the tastiest mac’n cheeses I’ve had in a while. It is comfort food at its finest. For lack of more eloquent terms, I like my macaroni and cheese more “saucy” and less “glutinous”- by glutinous I mean baked macaroni and cheeses that have very little sauce, or it is too thick, thus making the noodles sticky. I used my GF flour blend, which contributed to the sauce not thickening up too much, but if you use all-purpose flour, it will thicken up more. The sauce in my GF version definitely worked for me, and thickened up perfectly when my steaming portion cooled off a bit. Bacon in mac ‘n cheese shouldn’t need an explanation other than, “well, of course”,  but you might be wondering about the collard greens. They are sliced thin and sautéed in a garlicky oil then tenderized in coconut milk. It brings an interesting and delicious note of coconut to this global soul-food party.

to make this gluten-free: use gluten-free pasta (Jovial fusilli, penne, or caserecce ), soy sauce, flour and bread for the breadcrumbs.

serves: 10-12 (I halved this recipe for David & I and baked in an 8×8)
from: Marcus Off Duty

for the collard greens

1/2 cup coconut milk (from a can)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (shoyu, for GF)
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
6 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled (I bake on a rack over a sheet pan at 400 until crisp)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 cups thoroughly-washed collard greens, stems removed and discarded, and collards rolled and sliced thin

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for the mac & cheese

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or GF Flour Blend)
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup crème  fraîche
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon mustard powder
kosher salt & freshly ground white pepper
1 pound orecchiette or other small, sturdy pasta, cooked until just tender (or similar GF Pasta)

for the topping

1/3 cup toasted bread crumbs (or GF bread crumbs, from Udi’s gluten-free white bread)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoons grated Gruyère cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

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make the collard greens

Bring the coconut milk and soy sauce to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the mustard and crumbled bacon.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over low heat. Add the garlic and slowly toast to flavor the fats, about 5 minutes, then discard.

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Add the collard green to the oil and cook, stirring frequently, until the greens start to wilt.

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Stir in the coconut milk mixture and cook, partly covered, until the greens are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes.

make the mac & cheese

Preheat the broiler. Oil a 9-x13-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until they’re tender and golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the heavy cream and milk, making sure there are no lumps. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then add all the cheeses and the crème fraîche. Whisk until the cheeses are melted and fully incorporated into the sauce. Mix in the nutmeg, mustard, and salt and white pepper to taste. Add the cooked pasta and collard greens to the sauce and toss to combine. Transfer to the baking dish.

make the topping

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the herbs are minced.

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Sprinkle the topping over the pasta. Broil until the topping is golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

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