Poblano Mac & Cheese

I’m a sucker for macaroni and cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food for me, and has been a source of culinary joy ever since I was in diapers. At 31 it still makes me happy to eat. This version I made for the first time the other day and it has been added to the “definitely make again” list. I altered the recipe quite a bit from the original, omitting lime zest, juice and breadcrumbs. I just wanted some creamy mac & cheese with a little bit of heat, poblano, and a smooth and creamy sauce. I used Chilaca peppers (which looked better than the poblanos at my grocery). They are very similar to poblanos, but poblanos are much easier to find. I served this with grilled flank steak that was seasoned with salt, paprika, garlic, and dry chili powders. It was a delicious meal.

adapted from: Here and/or Cooking Light April 2013
serves: 4

8 oz uncooked macaroni
2 poblano peppers (or chilaca peppers)
1 cup 1% low-fat milk, divided
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
red pepper flakes
5 oz queso quesadilla cheese, shredded, plus extra for topping
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
shredded Parmesan for topping
cooking spray or butter for baking dish

Preheat broiler to high.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil until blackened, about 6 minutes. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand at least 5 minutes. Peel off blackened skin and cut the peppers into pieces.

In a saucepan whisk together ¾ cup milk, stock, flour, and garlic. Bring to a boil; cook 3 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in the peppers, 2-4 tablespoons milk (to thin a bit if desired), desired amount of red pepper flakes, 5 oz quesadilla cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. Taste and add as much salt as necessary to bring the flavors together. Stir in the macaroni. Spoon mixture into an 8 inch square greased broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish. (Or use individual dishes.) Top with some shredded quesadilla cheese and shredded Parmesan. Broil for a few minutes, or until cheese starts to get brown and spotty.

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