Is there any food out there that's more comforting than macaroni and cheese? I certainly can't think of one. I absolutely love macaroni and cheese, and I love finding fun and unique variations even more. I have a standard baked recipe that has never let me down, but I like to branch out and try other combos as well - shrimp and feta, fontina, and now this spicy green chile mac and cheese.
This particular recipe was in December's Bon Appetit, and it stopped me dead in my tracks when I saw the title of the recipe. I immediately added it to the menu for the week, but upon closer examination of the recipe, I knew it would need some major tweaking to suit our tastes. I really love how a poblano is first roasted and peeled, then pureed. The puree is then added to the cheese sauce, and every bite is permeated with that delicious, smoky, roasted poblano taste. However, the recipe only called for 1/2 cup of cheese! How is that possible? So I tripled it, and while I was at it, used a combo of sharp white cheddar with the pepperjack. I just love the combination of those two cheeses. I also added some extra peppers, and subbed half and half for heavy cream. Since I used so much extra cheese, I figured I'd save some calories where I could ;-). Finally, I topped the final product with some cayenne-laced panko and broiled the whole thing for a few minutes. I just love a good crunchy top.
I for one have no problem eating macaroni and cheese as my main dish - paired with a salad for some extra veggies, it is actually one of my favorite meals. But this would be a great side dish to grilled steaks or pork as well. I'd been battling a cold for several days, and when I made this the combination of poblano, jalapeno, and pepperjack sure did clear my sinuses!
Green Chile Macaroni and cheese
wildly adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2010, originally from Roaring Fork Resaurant
serves 2-3 as a main course, 6 as a side or appetizer
- 1 cup dry small pasta shapes(macaroni, shells, etc)
- 1 whole fresh poblano chile, plus 1/3 cup chopped fresh poblano
- 1 Tbs vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 3/4 cup half and half, plus more as needed
- 3/4 cup grated pepperjack cheese
- 3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbs melted butter
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Meanwhile, char the whole chile directly over a gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 10-15 minutes. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop the pepper. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped poblano, bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno. Saute until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and season with salt, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Ad the corn and stir one minute. Add the half and half and chile puree and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and both shredded cheeses, and stir until cheese melts and the mixture is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
Evenly divide mixture into a lightly greased oven-safe gratin dish or ramekins.
In a small bowl, combine the panko, butter, and cayenne and toss with a fork. Sprinkle mixture over the macaroni and cheese. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until panko is lightly browned and mixture is bubbly.