It’s fun to experiment with a classic recipe! Here's my twist on a comfort food favorite: Poblano Mac & Cheese!
It’s fun to experiment with a classic recipe, and you can’t find anything more classic than a warm dish of mac and cheese. Growing up I had plenty of bowls of Mexican-style sopa made with macaroni pasta, but never a baked pasta dish. It was not until I was married and had to come up with my own menus for dinner.
Well, I came to find out that my husband would not eat homemade macaroni and cheese, only the boxed version, which shall remain nameless! So, for many, many years I never even thought about preparing a homemade version again. But just last spring, I was experimenting with a mac and cheese recipe to enter a contest. I thought it was delicious and beautiful, but I figured I would have to beg my husband to try it. After his second helping, my guess was that he liked it! He really, truly liked it! For this recipe I added one of my all-time favorite ingredients, roasted poblano peppers and four kinds of cheese. A classic recipe with a Mexican spin.
Preheat broiler to high for 5 minutes. Wash the peppers (poblanos and jalapeño) and transfer to a lined baking sheet. Broil for 10 to 12 minutes, turning as needed or until most of the skins on the poblanos blister and char slightly. Never leave the broiler unattended. Remove from oven and cover with a clean kitchen towel for 25 minutes.
While the peppers are cooling, prep the onions, garlic and cheese. Remove the blistered skins from the peppers, along with stems and seeds. Transfer the peppers to the blender. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 ºF. Preheat a large Dutch oven pot to medium for 2 minutes. Add the butter, onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, add flour and cook for another 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chicken broth, 1 cup milk, nutmeg, hot sauce and roasted poblano sauce. Stir well to combine and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the sauce becomes thick.
In a bowl, combine all the cheese, 1/2 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and stir to combine. Reserve 1 cup of cheese mixture for topping. Add the remaining cheese to the thickened sauce, remove from heat and stir to melt cheese. Taste for salt.
Add in the cooked pasta, stir to combine. Now, you can divide the mac and cheese among the 4 crocks or you can pour it into the baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake for 25 minutes, then for 1 minute under the broiler to brown the top. Remove from oven and let set for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions.
The 2-cup crocks are a fun way to serve mac and cheese for the family when you know they will be having second helpings. It’s all in one dish, so no big pan to worry about. If using the crocks, use a lined baking sheet underneath to catch any spills or drippings.