My personal favorite mac and cheese recipe was from one of my older Southern Living Cookbooks that I've made for over 20 years now. You know how once you find "the recipe"...you pretty much stop trying or looking for the perfect one? Well, that mac and cheese recipe was "the one" for my family and I for a very long time. Unfortunately, besides using the obvious wheat based macaroni, that recipe also used a blend of natural cheese as well as Velveeta which I don't eat any more either. So, I decided to come up with a delicious cheese sauce to enrobe my chunks of cauliflower cooked to perfect al dente (just until barely tender). I made a beautiful thick and delicious white cheddar sauce to bake the "cauli-roni" in and then topped it with shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese. It was gorgeous and turned out absolutely delicious. It was the perfect "wheat and grain free alternative" for traditional macaroni and cheese. I snapped a few photos below as well as included the recipe for my Baked Cauli-roni & Cheese. I will post my recipe for the short ribs tomorrow. Enjoy!
|Ready to be steamed|
|Steamed, drained and waiting to be sauced|
|Freshly shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese|
|The cheese sauce is ready|
|Sauced and ready to be topped with more cheese|
|Ready for the oven...|
|Baked Cauli-roni & Cheese, Slow Cooker Boneless Beef Short Ribs, and Steamed Green Beans|
Baked Cauli-roni & Cheese
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese
1-1/4 cups half-and-half (or substitute light cream or whole milk)
1 teaspoon ground mustard (powdered)
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese (powdery style)
12 ounces of block-style sharp cheddar cheese (yellow or white), shredded (about 3 cups), divided
8 cups cauliflower florets, steamed until just tender or al dente (approximately 1 large head cut into 1-inch chunks)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter; add cream cheese and whisk until melted and smooth. Gradually pour in half-and-half or milk, whisking until combined and slightly thickened. Add mustard and salt and pepper, to taste, and whisk until combined, stirring frequently just until heated but not boiling. Take 1/4 cup of the sauce and whisk vigorously into beaten egg in a small bowl. Pour beaten egg mixture back into sauce and whisk in until smooth. Heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Whisk in almond flour and Parmesan. Add 2 cups of shredded cheese (reserve 1 cup for top of casserole); stir just until melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper, as necessary.
In a large bowl combine well drained steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce until well combined. Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Top with reserved 1 cup shredded cheese and sprinkle lightly with paprika, if desired. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top. If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes for additional browning. Let sit about 10 minutes to allow cheeses to set.
*Note: Freshly shredded cheese melts better and more smoothly when making a cheese sauce because it doesn't contain added starches and anti-caking ingredients that commercially prepared shredded cheeses do. It's important to make sure cauliflower is well drained to prevent casserole from becoming watery.