I have to say I’m having so much fun cooking through this cookbook! I can’t believe how many recipes I want to try. Next up in the Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight Series is poblano macaroni and cheese. I’ve never cooked with poblano chiles before, and actually this was my first time “steaming” a chile….a process I’d read about many times, but never attempted.
My girls love mac ‘n cheese, but I have to be honest…I was a bit nervous to see how they’d feel about it when they saw it with flecks of green chiles in it. And since I was worried, I only bought one poblano chile instead of two. It seems my worry was unfounded because my girls not only gobbled this up…they asked for seconds and thirds and even declared it “their favorite mac ‘n cheese!” They weren’t deterred by the cilantro or the hint of lime either. Thank goodness my “foodie-ness” is rubbing off on them And my hubby too!
I didn’t have the white cheddar called for, so instead I used a combination of muenster, monterey jack and pepper jack cheeses. I decided to bake the macaroni and cheese in my oven-safe skillet which is not something I usually do, but I thought it’d make for a prettier picture. Of course I removed the skillet with a pot holder, but then proceeded to “grab” the handle in order to adjust it for the picture. Sheesh….thankfully I didn’t do a full on grabbing of the handle and was merely a start to grab and the heat scared me away. That could have been BAD!
Poblano Macaroni and Cheese ~ 8 servings
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain
2 poblano chiles
8 ounces elbow pasta (2 cups)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 cups grated white cheddar cheese (12 oz)
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, for serving
1. Roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly, and let the chiles steam for about 20 minutes. Take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove stem and seeds and chop the chiles into 1-inch-long pieces.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to your package’s directions and then drain the pasta. (You want the pasta to be cooked but not mushy; I cook my pasta for 5 minutes.) *I cooked mine for about 8 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large baking dish or a large cast-iron skillet, and pour the drained pasta into the dish.
4. In a pot (you can use the pot the pasta cooked in or you can do this while the pasta boils), on low heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and stir until it’s thickened a bit but still fluid, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro and chopped poblano chiles. Adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper.
5. Slowly add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it’s melted and well combined into the sauce. (If the sauce has cooled too much and the cheese won’t melt, return the pot to low heat on the stove. If, however, the sauce gets too thick, like a custard, you can thin it by stirring in milk, a teapoon at a time.) Pour sauce over pasta and top with the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese, and serve immediately.
Variations ~ Try adding cooked bacon, chorizo, chicken, squash, or corn to the macaroni and cheese before baking. You can also substitute pepper Jack for some of the cheddar if you like. And if you like a crunchy top, add crushed tortilla chips before baking.
Coming up next in the series….Sopapillas! I was surprised at how easy they are!!