This weekend was a whirlwind of activity, mostly centered around my four year old son. And we all know kids love mac & cheese, right? My kid certainly does, and he will eat it every time it is served, unless it is homemade. My shameful secret is that my child wants, nay craves that boxed stuff with the not-found-in-nature orange colored cheese powder. Yesterday I grabbed a microwaveable cup of the foul stuff from the pantry and set it on my kitchen island while I prepared the food of the gods, homemade macaroni & cheese. I had some roasted hot green chiles to use, too. And so it went, a decadently rich mac & cheese, delicately flavored with green chile. The heat of the peppers was tempered by all the cheesy goodness, so please don’t go for mild chiles. And do not use raw ones in this dish, or you’ll run the risk of crunchy bits when you want creaminess.
My recipe is an adaptation of Alton Brown’s Baked Macaroni & Cheese. I’ve found his recipe to be a great base, and you can add things like green chile, diced ham, diced roasted chicken, or crab and lobster, whatever tickles your fancy, or needs to be used. I hope you think this is amazing mac & cheese, just like I do. My son took one bite, told me it was yucky, and asked for his cup of microwaved mac. Sigh.
Green Chile Mac & Cheese
2 cups large elbow macaroni
3 TB. butter
3 Tb. flour
1 Tb. ground mustard
1/2 diced onion (yellow or white)
1 Tb. Spanish smoked paprika (or regular, but I like the smokiness)
3 cups milk
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 roasted hot green chiles, skin, tops & seeds removed, diced
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 Tb butter
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian (or garlic/herb flavor) bread crumbs
Prepare macaroni according to package instructions. While pasta is boiling, melt butter in a separate pot. Add flour and mustard and whisk continually until roux starts to darken. You do not want to burn this or it will turn bitter and you’ll have to throw it out and start over. Once it has started to darken, add the onions and continue whisking for another minute. Add paprika and milk and whisk thoroughly. Add cheese and stir to incorporate, then add chiles. The cheese will melt quickly, and as soon as it has, give it one last good stir and turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover pot to keep it warm. In a small frying pan, melt 1 Tb. butter, then add breadcrumbs and stir until all butter is absorbed. Turn off heat. Drain pasta and put into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Carefully add the chile cheese mixture and stir well to ensure all pasta is well-coated. Top with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are browned and the filling is bubbly. [Side note: My oven is way off, and the temperature fluctuates wildly, so I check it at 15 minutes. I have an oven thermometer hanging in it, and some times my oven will go 25 to 50 degrees off while cooking, almost always to the hotter side, not cooler.] Let the mac & cheese rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!