I have recently fallen in love with Stephen Satterfield’s “High On The Hog” on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Food writer Stephen Satterfield traces the origins of African-American cuisine from Africa to the low country of Charleston and Texas.
This is a four-episode show, and in one episode, there is a segment about James Hemings, the slave chef of Thomas Jefferson, who was sent to Paris for culinary training. During that segment, they make a “cheese pie,” which is known today as macaroni and cheese. I was enthralled and immediately knew that I was going to have to make it myself.
It was such a success the first time, and I have now made it three more times. I swear I think I like this better than my already famous macaroni and cheese. My original recipe is amazing, and I have heard on hundreds of occasions, ‘You make the best macaroni and cheese that I have ever eaten!’ but this recipe gives my original recipe a run for its money.
As many of you know, several issues can occur when you are using gluten free pasta. You can easily overcook the pasta, the pasta can turn into a pile of sticky goo, and the list goes on. Well, I fine-tuned the issue of working with gluten free pasta; however, I found some issues when it came to putting the leftovers (if there are any) in the fridge and reheating it.
When making my original recipe, I had used a roux, a mixture of fat and flour, commonly used when making sauces. The roux caused the macaroni and cheese to become a solid block until it was reheated.
Another problem I encountered with the original recipe was that after you reheated it and stirred it, the gluten free macaroni broke up and lost its shape. Now, do not get me wrong: I have never had anyone turn it down as a leftover. While it may not have held the shape it once did, it still had all of its original flavor.
However, my new cooking technique, inspired by James Fleming, has enhanced the texture and durability of the pasta, making this recipe better than ever.
So, what’s the secret to James Hemings macaroni? Cooking the pasta in spiced milk!
The macaroni absorbs the spiced milk and now holds its shape and integrity (even when reheated). The macaroni has a creamy structure that unites with the multitude of fresh grated cheeses and butter, leaving the enjoyer in melted cheese heaven.
I am pretty certain this will be my new method when I make macaroni and cheese for my family as well as my Vee Culinary clients.
I invite you to give this recipe a try and leave your comments below!
Macaroni & Cheese
- 3.5 cups Whole Milk
- 1 cup Water
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1 tsp Chef Vedam’s Gluten Free All-Purpose Seasoning Blend
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Mustard Powder
- 16 oz Gluten Free Elbow Macaroni
- 4 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese Fresh Grated
- 2 Cups Havarti Fresh Grated
- 2 Cups Gruyere Fresh Grated
- 2 Cups Parmesan Fresh Grated
- 4-6 Tbsp Butter
- Pour the milk and water into a medium-large pot and heat on medium heat.
- Add the salt, pepper, Chef Vedam’s All-Purpose Seasoning Blend, garlic powder, and mustard powder, and stir to incorporate. (Please note: when the milk begins to boil, it will rise in the pot and may overflow if you are not careful.)
- Add the gluten free elbow macaroni and stir.
- I like to follow what is usually listed on the macaroni package as the “Easy & Energy Saving” method, which is bringing the mixture back up to hot and allowing it to heat (slightly boil) for two minutes. Once the two minutes are done, you then cover, turn off the heat, and set a timer according to the manufacturer's instruction, MINUS TWO MINUTES. In other words, the pasta/macaroni that I use asks for 17 minutes of resting in the covered pot with no heat. I set my timer for 15 minutes instead of 17 minutes.
- When the time is done regarding the macaroni, remove the lid, and you will notice that the macaroni has absorbed most, if not all, the seasoned milk mixture.
- Spray a baking dish (a tall 9 X 9, or a 9 X 11 baking dish) with non-stick spray, or grease the baking dish with butter.
- Using a slotted spoon, place enough macaroni into the baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Place a few dollops/pats of butter onto the macaroni, and then top macaroni with some of the cheese, enough just to cover the macaroni.
- Again, using the slotted spoon, add another layer of macaroni, then top with more pats of butter, and then another layer of cheese.
- Continue this method, finishing and topping with grated cheese. If there is any milk mixture left in the pot, pour that over the macaroni.
- Place into the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Allow macaroni and cheese to rest for 10 minutes before diving in.