It’s been a while since I succumbed to the siren song of a good Mac and Cheese.
I’ve tried a few fancy versions at various gourmet purveyors and even an unnamed frozen variety, but nothing has quite hit the mark.
And, to be honest, because my favorites have always involved way too much cheese and because I’ve become accustomed to a low-carb lifestyle, it has always been a guilty pleasure and not part of my regular rotation.
Not since the days when I would break out the Kraft Mac and Cheese while babysitting had I ever really been tempted to taste one of the many varieties of boxed Macs.
But, when gluten-free specialist Pamela’s Products stepped up recently, releasing two gluten-free Macaroni and Cheese flavors (one is vegan), with organic noodles, it was time to take a trip down memory lane.
The pasta is organic, made from gluten-free flour (organic white rice flour, organic pea protein, organic sprouted brown rice flour)/
All ingredients are non-GMO
Enjoy it as a lunch on-the-go, or dress it up with a few vegetables, herbs and assorted trimmings for dinner. (Toasted breadcrumbs are a traditional mac & cheese garnish—recipe below).
I chose to make my Macs for a late lunch, putting their flavor, convenience and fuel potential to the ultimate test. The standard Mac N’ Cheese was my first flavor, so that I could establish a ‘true North’ for the rest of my tastings. The instructions on the box are fairly standard, though they did call for boiling the noodles, then draining and mixing the butter, flavor packet and milk in the saucepan separately. In our home the noodles were drained by holding the pan over the sink and pouring the water off while fencing the noodles using a warped and fire-scarred wooden spoon. Whatever water remained in the saucepan, or tucked into the noodles, was incorporated into the sauce. So it was that with this first Mac from Pamela’s all of the additional ingredients went into the pan at once, over the al dente noodles, including 2T of butter (not 3T, as the recipe called for) and – for me – a ‘milk’ that I hacked together by blending 50/50 heavy cream and water.
RECIPE: PANKO TOASTED BREADCRUMBS
If you are going to bake the mac and cheese, there’s an easier way to toast the breadcrumbs. Here is the recipe for stovetop or microwaved mac & cheese.
1 cup clarified butter
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup cheddar cheese
½ cup fontina cheese
½ cup comté cheese
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
Pamela’s Mac and Cheeses, by Georgi Page-Smith
I am happy to report that Pamela’s is a very forgiving Mac N’ Cheese indeed! The first bite was incredibly, satisfyingly tangy and toothsome, with a spring-y, chewy texture to the noodles that created the perfect vehicle for the sauce. But the sauce deserves a special shout-out, because after the addition of the butter and the milk it did not merely settle for being a sauce, it was a legitimate, full-bodied cheese experience. The cheese flavors had dimension, with a beginning-middle-and end notes that unfolded as I chewed. I highly recommend this variety without reservation, it is a definitive example of the genre.
Pamela’s Creamy Alfredo and Spicy Mac N’ Cheese flavors were next but, though they were very good, they weren’t an over-the-top thrill like the classic Mac N’ Cheese. Having been so impressed by that variety I think the Creamy Alfredo could have worked harder out of the box. There’s something transcendent and luscious about a good Alfredo that this didn’t achieve, though it would still be great with in-house additions, like chopped broccoli, peppers or shavings of Parmesan or Romano. Similarly, with the Spicy Mac, after having expectations raised I was hoping to go on a bit more of a flavor journey, like the first time I tasted a good Pasta Arrabiata, but this didn’t happen, though both flavors are still delicious and worth a try.
Pamela’s Creamy Mushroom was good, but could have been creamier, perhaps the proportions were off (an occasional issue with Pamela’s recipes). I salute Pamela’s for coming up with these creative variations on the Mac N’ Cheese theme but given that this is an ‘adult’ variation on the Mac N’ Cheese theme, I think the mushroom goodness could have been stronger. I supplemented with my own sautéed mushrooms and a hint of truffle salt and it was divine.
Hats off to Pamela’s for coming up with a selection of gluten-free pasta products that helped me give Mac N’ Cheese another try. These varieties are an extremely convenient comfort food ‘go to’ that people with gluten sensitivities should try, for a quick and tasty meal or side.
Available at Whole Foods nationwide or at other retailers here [http://www.pamelasproducts.com/retail-locations/]
The post PRODUCT: Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese From Pamela’s Products first appeared on THE NIBBLE Blog – Adventures In The World Of Fine Food.