Chipotle Mac and Cheese
So, last week I introduced you to the delectable Oven-Fried Chipotle Chicken. This week, I’m moving up one notch on the decadence scale by sharing Chipotle Mac and Cheese. Together, they’re a match made in comfort food heaven!
A few weeks ago, as I was kicking around the idea of starting a blog, I asked my sons how they would complete this sentence when talking to their future children. “Oh man, when I was a kid, my mom used to make the best __________________.” Both of them named this mac and cheese dish first without hesitation. And that’s precisely why it’s the star of this week’s “What’s Cooking” Wednesday.
You’re going to end up with two casserole dishes full of macaroni. The recipe recommends that you only put chipotles in one of the two casserole dishes of macaroni in case you’re serving to a mixed crowd including young kids who might not like the spiciness, but, for the record, my boys have never had an issue with the spice level in this dish, so I double the Chipotles, and put them in both pans. It’s not overpowering. Your choice.
Okay, here goes . . . are you ready?
Recipe courtesy of: Epicurious.com
For bread crumbs:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (Panko work really well.)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo (you’ll find these in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores)
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 pound macaroni
2 pounds extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), grated (kids might prefer a mix of Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
Make bread crumbs:
Heat butter and oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook garlic and bread crumbs, stirring, until crumbs are golden. (Tip: Keep an eye on this step because the process goes quickly, and you don’t want to burn the garlic.) (By the way, with the garlic in the mix, your home is going to smell heavenly, and will attract men named Giuseppe from miles around! All two of them.)
Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan over moderate heat, then add flour and cook, whisking, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, cream, and mustard and simmer, whisking occasionally, 3 minutes. (Tip: Use the back of a wooden spoon to press out any lumps in the sauce. Oh, and don’t skip the mustard. It really adds a nice, subtle zing!)
Cook macaroni in a 6- to 7-quart pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain in a colander and dump the pasta into the white sauce in the pot along with the cheese, chipotles (if you plan to add them to both casseroles), and salt to taste. Give the mixture a couple of good stirs.
Fill a 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole (9″ x 13″ casserole dish works fine) with half of macaroni mixture. If you have not incorporated the chipotles yet, stir them into one of the macaroni dishes. Spoon into another 1 1/2-quart shallow casserole and sprinkle both with bread crumbs. Bake casseroles in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until bubbly. (See the little chipotle pieces swimming in the cheese sauce? Not a bad gig if you can get it.)
And here’s what a completed pan of Chipotle Mac and Cheese oozing goodness looks like:
And here it is with its Oven-Fried Chipotle Chicken sidekick:
* Macaroni and cheese may be made 2 days ahead, put into casseroles, cooled completely, and chilled, covered. Do not add bread crumbs until ready to bake. (Baking may take longer than 30 minutes.) Now that you’ve conquered the Chipotle Mac and Cheese, why not try your hand at the Oven-Fried Chipotle Chicken?
* If you’ve never used the shredding wheel on your food processor before, this is a good time to start. You don’t want to be grating all of this cheese by hand because, if you’re like me, you’ll end up actually grating your hand. Also, the pre-shredded bagged cheese just doesn’t taste as rich as when you shred it freshly yourself.
* Just showing off my pot-filler. I’ve taken so much grief for installing it, that I’ll be darned if I’m not going to let it show off its magnificence. And you know what? I happily use it almost every day.