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What’s New in Prepared Foods

by Michael Tomaloff, Kitchen Supervisor

Anyone who frequents our Co-op’s hot bar is bound to be familiar with the Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese. Arguably the ultimate comfort food, everyone has a favorite version of macaroni and cheese; whether it’s Grandma’s recipe or from a box. Our take on it is really pretty good, but I am excited to tell you here about our new and improved recipe for “GF Mac” that we have come up with at the Willy Street Co-op Production Kitchen.

The traditional method for making macaroni and cheese, the method we have been using, is to thicken hot milk with roux, gradually add cheese, and then mix that with cooked pasta. It’s a great method. It’s been the method for at least 200 years. The flour thickens the milk, and the cheese binds with the sauce, and all is velvety and delicious. Usually. The gluten-free flour blend we employ is finicky. It doesn’t always behave as we wish, particularly in the large quantities we produce, and it definitely imparts a flavor that is easily masked in baked goods, but leaps to the fore in some other applications. So what’s a cook to do? 

Well, I ran across a method on an internet forum for professional cooks that forgoes the flour altogether, and uses a mixture of baking soda and citric acid to emulsify the cheese with the liquid ingredients (water and milk in this case). The resulting sauce is creamy and rich, without being heavy and starchy; the flavor is that of cheese, and salt, and butter, not of garbanzo bean flour. Best of all, as it waits for you on the hot bar, it doesn’t break or get lumpy as a roux-based sauce tends to do. 

I know, I know, maybe it’s a little silly to be this excited about mac and cheese, but passion and innovation are what drive us at the Production Kitchen, and our Gluten-Free Mac is just the latest in a long list of new and exciting culinary delights we look forward to sharing with you in the new year.