Four-Cheese Adobo Mac and Cheese, photo by Sonia Mendez GarciaPhoto by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Four-Cheese Adobo Mac and Cheese

Cuisine: Tex Mex
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes
Servings: 8-10 servings
This four-cheese adobo mac and cheese is an all-purpose dish! Make it for a simple but tasty family dinner, a game-day or party food, or as a scrumptious side dish.

Four-cheese adobo mac and cheese is a crowd pleaser that is also inexpensive to prepare. In my opinion, macaroni and cheese has to be one of the most popular dishes in America. And why stop at just one cheese when you have so many to choose from? This four-cheese version will have you craving a second bowl even before you get through the first! The simple and quick adobo is versatile. Not only does it add a delicious flavor to the macaroni and cheese, it's also super tasty as a marinade.

There are so many ways to elevate your basic mac and cheese. I've made this dish with roasted poblanos, queso fundido, and even pumpkin and chipotle. What's your favorite mac n cheese recipe?

Ingredients

  • For the Pasta
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • For the Quick Adobo
  • cups water
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chile ancho powder or any mild chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile de arbol powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • For the Cheese Sauce
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter reserve 1 tablespoon separately
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk at room temperature
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
  • pinch fresh grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 8 ounces Pepper jack cheese shredded
  • 8 ounces muenster cheese shredded
  • 8 ounces extra sharp white cheddar shredded
  • 3/4 cup cotija cheese finely grated
  • You Will Also Need
  • 1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 4-5 green onions sliced thin

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Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and drizzle with a little oil. Toss gently and set aside.
  2. For the quick adobo, add the water and cloves of garlic to a small saucepan. Heat to medium just until bubbles begin to form. Remove from heat. To the blender, add the chile ancho powder, cumin, chile de arbol powder, pepper, cider vinegar, salt and hot water with garlic. Cover blender tightly and blend on high until smooth. Taste for salt and set aside.
  3. In a large dutch-oven style pot, add 4 tablespoons of butter and heat to medium. As soon as the butter melts, whisk in the 4 tablespoons of flour until smooth. Continue whisking for 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the milk and Mexican crema until smooth and well incorporated. Reduce heat slightly. Add the fresh nutmeg. Continue cooking, whisking often, until the sauce becomes thick.
  5. Whisk in the mustard, hot sauce and adobo sauce. Mix in a pinch of salt. Turn heat to lowest setting. Using a spoon to stir, mix in 2/3 of each cheese variety to the bechamel sauce. Turn off heat, taste sauce for salt. Set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a small skillet, add the 1 tablespoon of reserved butter. As soon as butter melts, add the seasoned breadcrumbs. Cook just until breadcrumbs are completely coated with butter and toast slightly. Remove from heat.
  7. If your dutch-oven pot is oven proof, you can leave the macaroni right in there to finish the dish. If not, transfer the pasta to a 13x9 baking dish. Fold in the remaining cheese, making sure you leave some to sprinkle on top. Spread out the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the breadcrumbs become golden brown. To finish browning, turn broiler onto high for just a minute. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions. If your dutch-oven pot is oven proof, you can leave the macaroni right in there to finish the dish. If not, transfer the pasta to a 13x9 baking dish. Fold in the remaining cheese, making sure you leave some to sprinkle on top. Spread out the breadcrumbs evenly over the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the breadcrumbs become golden brown. To finish browning, turn broiler onto high for just a minute. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions.

Chef Notes

Do your best to find a pure chile ancho powder for your recipes. The chili powder sold in most stores is actually a blend of spices and not pure chile. If you cook using chile pods already, even better! Preparing powders and sauces using the pods will really make your recipes stand out!

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