Perhaps one of the most disheartening aspects of living in Iowa again is the lack of access to truly amazing food. The restaurant pickings are thin, and the grocery stores carry little of interest to me. As such, I've been thinking creative lately about things I would make with my favorite ingredients if only I could get them here. Instead, I made do with what was available, with passable results. The following was tonight's dish--one I'd created in my head weeks ago. I can't wait to try this again with ingredients that I'm excited about using!
Mac 'n' Cheese
1 lb gluten-free pasta (I used rotini, but macaroni or shells would work equally well)
2 cups milk
2 Tbls corn starch
8 oz cheese, shredded (I used yellow cheddar--I shudder as I write this--but would recommend anything you can get your hands on; maybe a nicely aged Irish Cheddar or gouda)
1/2 lb pork (I used slab bacon, though I would love to try this with prosciutto)
1/2 cup dates, coarsely chopped (I would have LOVED to have used fresh dates, but had to settle for "chopped" dates dusted with sugar)
2 oz gorgonzola (Oh, that I had access to a real cheese counter. Anybody know where I can sell a kidney or part of my liver?)
Cook and crumble bacon. (I just chop it up and cook the little pieces). Drain off excess fat and rest on a paper towel. If using prosciutto, I would recommend chopping coarsely, but not cooking.
Boil the pasta according to directions on package.
In the meantime, whisk the milk and cornstarch in a medium saucepan until thoroughly combined. Heat over medium-high heat whisking frequently, until thickened.
When the pasta is done cooking, drain and toss with milk mixture, dates, and bacon pieces (or prosciutto).
In a medium casserole lightly buttered, layer 1/3 of the pasta mixture. Top with 1/3 of the (cheddar) cheese. Repeat layer two more times. Top with gorgonzola.
Cover and bake in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve.
(This may have done with a bit more date and bacon pieces, but who knows, it might also have been my inferior ingredients).