Southwest Mac & Cheese

30 Apr

A while back Serious Eats posted a recipe for Southwest Mac & Cheese with a Cornbread Crust. A light bulb went off in my head when I saw it because I had been trying to find a way to use one of my Christmas presents. My parents brought me some pasta from Pappardelle’s Pasta at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

They got me the Southwestern Blend and I thought it would be perfect in that recipe. The pasta was amazing. The green jalapeno pieces had a really nice kick!

This was a fun cooking experience with JC, so you will see her in some of the photos. I also forgot to take my normal lineup photo. So here is a photo of the yummy pasta:

Here is what you will need:

4 poblano peppers
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups cornbread, preferably a little dry/stale (didn’t have)
1/4 cup all purpose-flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 teaspoons oregano (preferably Mexican)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar (dryish and very flavorful)
10 ounces Monterey jack
1 seven ounce can chopped roasted Hatch chili peppers
1 red bell pepper (dice)
Salt

First thing we did was to use my toaster oven to broil the poblano’s:

Then JC was starting the cheese sauce and I ambushed her with a photo:

She is melting the butter then whisking in flour

More flour making a slurry like sauce:

Next she whisked in the milk, onion, garlic, oregano (not Mexican) and nutmeg (not fresh):

You can see the pasta boiling in the background.

Next we started slowly mixing in the cheese (Can’t be mac & cheese without the cheese!)

If you are paying attention you’ll notice that we switched to a bigger pot because the cheese wouldn’t fit in the little one (dumb me)

Look at this delicious cheese!!!!

With the pasta draining I started chopping up some peppers:

Thanks to JC, we have an ACTION shot of Joe chopping peppers!!!!

Look at that horrible technique:

JC stealing a taste of the pasta in the cheese sauce:

The pasta is about to take a bath! A VERY cheesy bath!

Mmmmmm…cheesy macaroni:

While mixing in the cheese we added it in batches and added the peppers in batches. This allowed us to slowly add in the heat and decide when enough was enough.

Since I didn’t have any cornbread, and couldn’t find any pre-made at the grocery store I decided to use some corn meal that I had used before. I put a thin layer over the top hoping it would brown up into a nice crust.

This decision was totally my own and really had no experience to base it off of. I just tried something new. This is what it looked like before it went into the oven:

That got covered tightly in tinfoil and goes into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

This gave us an opportunity to have a glass of wine and test out my AWESOME Valentine’s Day present:

Whiskey with the photobomb!

JC looking REALLY cute hanging with me on the couch:

After 30 minutes take off the foil and let it brown up for another 10 minutes. When mine came out it looked like this:

I’m sure if you use the actual cornbread crust it’ll look better but I thought the end result was delicious!

Here are the bowls:

As I said before the pasta had some great flavor and the cheese sauce was excellent. Overall my only complaint was that it wasn’t quite cheesy enough. If I were to make it again I would definitely use more cheese and maybe even a layer of cheese under the crust (JC’s idea) would put this over the top.

If you are looking for a way to kick up your Mac & Cheese a notch, this is a great idea! Check it out!

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One Response to “Southwest Mac & Cheese”

  1. mom May 2, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    So glad the pasta met a happy ending after the effort it took to get it to Orlando.

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