I am a huge fan of mac and cheese. I may even be as so bold to say that it is one of my favourite dishes. So when I ran across this recipe for mac and cheese with a bit of Tex Mex flair, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try it.
from The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook
2 cups small elbow macaroni
½ cup bottled thick and chunky salsa verde (medium heat)
1 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves
3 cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (12 0z), divided
4 tsp all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ tsp (scant) ground cloves
1 cup large corn chips
Preheat oven to 425 F. Cook macaroni in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Drain. Meanwhile blend salsa and cilantro in processor. Toss 2 cups of cheese and flour in medium bowl to coat. Bring milk, cream and cloves to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cheese mixture. Whisk until sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in macaroni; season to taste with pepper.
Spread half of macaroni mixture in 11 x 7″ baking dish. Drop half salsa mixture over in dollops. Sprinkle with ½ cup cheese. Top with remaining macaroni mixture and salsa mixture. Sprinkle chips over. Top with remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.
A few notes on preparation: So we decided to jazz this recipe up a bit. We chopped up about 1 tbsp of our homemade pickled jalapeños and stirred it into the cheese mixture before adding the macaroni. As we didn’t have whole milk, we went with ½ cup creme fraiche and ½ cup skim milk. David fried about 8 strips of bacon, which we added half of on top of the first layer, and crumbled the rest of it on top. We also decided that the crumbling the corn chips on top would make it more manageable to eat.
So this was more of a “Mexican” casserole rather than a straight up mac and cheese, which is absolutely fine with us. It had a nice heat from the salsa verde and jalapeños, but it wasn’t unmanageably hot. We so rarely eat salsa verde that it was a delightful treat to have that kind of round, green chile flavour. We both noted that a little bit more cheese would be nice (shockingly). I liked the crunch of the corn chips, and could even see an additional layer of corn chips (rather than only on top). David thinks that even more meat might be fun, such as a layer of chorizo. Thankfully, the portion size is generous enough to make for great leftovers the next day. All in all, a fun new take on mac and cheese!