Before I start, let me just say this: I realize this is a paleo website. I realize that brown rice is NOT paleo, and neither is dairy. I realize that some paleo purists might be offended by finding this recipe on a paleo website. But here’s the thing, the word “paleo” doesn’t define me. Sure, my body feels better when I stick to paleo-friendly foods, which I do stick to them the majority of the time. But I don’t allow myself to feel tied down and held back from living life by the paleo lifestyle 100% of the time. I’m not comfortable with restricting foods from my diet just because someone else tells me to. I will however, restrict a specific food if my body tells me to. At the end of the day, I’m all about food-whole, natural, beautiful food. There are certain non-paleo foods like brown rice and raw dairy that my body does tolerate on occasion. So, when the mood strikes and I really get a hankering for some down home, comfort food, these are foods are typically included in the mix.
Speaking of comfort foods, does anyone else keep up with all the happenings of The Pioneer Woman? Is it just me, or does her food always look amazing? I have 3 of her 4 cookbooks, and there was a period of about a year where I would keep up with her page on a daily basis, eagerly waiting to see what she would come out with next. Though I might not be quite as obsessed these days, I’ve been known to pull one of her books out of the cabinet and just look through all of the recipes, admire the pictures, and read the stories. As enjoyable as this is, sometimes it’s equally painful. Obviously, her recipes aren’t exactly paleo or even anywhere near gluten-free. This is a problem for me when I’m drooling over her cinnamon roll pictures. It becomes my automatic goal to alter each recipe enough to where I can eat it but to still be as close to the original as possible. In her first book, she has this amazing recipe for macaroni and cheese. Not only does it look fairly easy, but it looks incredibly delicious. I knew from the first time I saw it that I needed it in my life, STAT. The only way it would work would be to get rid of the gluten, and use raw dairy or find a substitute for it. Since cheese is near impossible to substitute in mac and cheese (I’ve done it when on a limited eating plan, but it’s not something I would choose when given a choice of the real thing), and now that I have access to raw dairy from our fabulous CSA, I went with the raw dairy route. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’d say it’s one of the best gluten-free pasta dishes I’ve ever had. It definitely puts the easy-mac and boxed macaroni and cheese to shame (ok that might not be saying a lot, but just trust me). It’s ok if you have a box or two in the pantry-I’m not judging. Goodness knows I lived off of the stuff as a kid. But if you’re looking for a healthier angle on macaroni and cheese while still enjoying all the rich, cheesy goodness, this recipe definitely doesn’t disappoint! So, without further ado, I give you macaroni and cheese.
*You can find the original Pioneer Woman recipe here.
Macaroni and Cheese
4 cups/1 package brown rice macaroni (I like this brand)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard
1 lb cheddar cheese, grated (a food processor is perfect for this)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Cook the macaroni according to the package
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° and butter a dutch oven or baking dish
- In a large pot, melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour
- Whisk this together over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. It’s important to whisk constantly so it doesn’t burn
- Add the milk and dry mustard, and whisk until smooth. Cook for another 5 minutes or until thick. It’s again important to whisk continuously. Once thick, reduce the heat to low
- Take about 1/4 cup of the sauce and slowly pour it into the beaten egg to temper it. Make sure to whisk constantly to avoid having a scrambled egg on your hands.
- Add in the egg mixture to the sauce, and whisk until smooth
- Now it’s time for the cheese!! Add all of it into the sauce except for about 1/2 cup. Mix until melted
- Now add the salt and pepper. It’s important to taste the sauce at this point to make sure that there’s enough salt.
- Pour in the cooked, drained macaroni and stir to combine. Then, pour into dutch oven or baking dish
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese on top, and bake for 25 minutes or until happy, melty, and golden.
- Let cool for a minute or two, then dive in!