Sunday, October 21, 2012

Smoky Poblano & Habenero 3-Cheese Macaroni

Who doesn't love mac n cheese for dinner?!  Most of us crave it...guiltily for most of us.  Not gonna lie, it isn't the best thing for your hips, yet our taste buds have fallen in love with the creamy, cheesey goodness that makes this traditional comfort food everyone's hands-down favorite.

Just for the record, "blue box" macaroni and cheese is NOT the old-time-y traditional version!  Too many kids have grown up without knowing the joys of REAL, from-scratch mac n cheese!  It isn't difficult, either. Boil the pasta, make a white sauce, add some cheese, mix them together, bake and voila!  Dinner is served. 

This version of the basic recipe uses roasted poblanos, smoked gouda, Cabot hot habenero cheddar and just a touch of fresh tomatoes combined into one of Mark's new faves.  If you like heat, you'll love this!  Smoked gouda added a bacon-y flavor, yet it's still a meatless dish that would be perfect to serve on Meatless Mondays or to some very lucky vegetarian friends.  

When it comes to the kiddies, though, this might not be the homemade version to start has a KICK!  Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar Cheese may be over the top for little ones...and some big ones, too.  If you like your heat toned down just a little, simply use a milder hot pepper cheese...pepper jack would work just fine.  Or use all sharp cheddar & smoked gouda.  I won't mind at all.

Usually, I only make macaroni and cheese once a year.  My hips requested the sensible restriction, but my tastebuds (and Mark!) demanded otherwise. So I caved in and made macaroni and cheese TWICE this year!  Oops.  (The last mac & cheese post was Smoky Bacon & Beer, Gouda & Cheddar Mac and Cheese. 

Have your tastebuds apologize to your hips and make this...your hips may forgive you eventually.  Here's the newest guilty favorite mac & cheese....enjoy!

 Smoky Poblano & Habenero 3-Cheese Macaroni

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch - check to be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups milk, I use skim, use what you like...there's so much cheese, it doesn't make a difference

  • 4 cups smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar or a milder pepperjack, if you prefer
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, gluten-free to make this GF (the best is BiAglut)
  • 3 large poblano peppers, blackened, peeled, seeds removed, sliced
  • 1 tomato, seeds squeezed out & diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and gradually add the cornstarch while whisking.  When smooth, add salt & pepper.  Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.  Add the cheeses slowly, whisking constantly.  

When the sauce is almost smooth (completely smooth isn't necessary), remove from heat and add to the cooked pasta.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Butter the inside of a large casserole dish.  Layer half of the macaroni mixture in the bottom.  Set aside a few strips of pepper and a few pieces of tomato for garnish.  Dice the remaining poblano and scatter that and the tomatoes on top of the layer of mac & cheese.  Sprinkle with granulated garlic.  

Poblanos & tomatoes top the 1st layer of mac & cheese.

Top the veggies with the remaining mac & cheese, cover with shredded cheddar and arrange the remaining poblano strips and diced tomatoes on top.

Bake for 30-45 minutes and serve.

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