Spicy Mac

I have probably mentioned it before, but mac & cheese and risotto are my absolute favorite comfort foods. A well executed mac recipe will put me right in my happy place. The Mac + Cheese Cookbook has a place of honor in my cookbook rotation. I mean, a cookbook full of mac & cheese recipes? Yes please. I adapted this one a bit. The original calls for Mexican chorizo, jack cheese and lime juice. I prefer my recipe, which uses rotisserie chicken (easy!), pepper jack cheese, and sautéed onion. This mac is creamy, pleasantly spicy, and oh so satisfying, everthing I like in a pasta dish. The proportions in the recipes from this book make for a very saucy mac. I think the recipe can handle one to two more ounces of pasta, I usually use an amount closer to 10 ounces. You can always make a larger batch of noodles, and then you will have extra on hand if you need to add more noodles to the sauce.  You will have more chipotle sauce than you need for this recipe. Store it tightly wrapped in the fridge. It is delicious when mixed with some mayo to spread on sandwiches, tacos, or grilled chicken. Kind of like an easy chipotle aioli.

adapted from: The Mac + Cheese Cookbook
serves: 4

1/2 pound dried elbow pasta or noodles of your choice
1/2 pound pulled or chopped meat from a rotisserie chicken
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles en adobo
1/4-1/3 cup chopped red onion sautéed in butter or olive oil until softened (optional)
2 cups Mac Sauce (see recipe below)
2 cups grated pepper jack cheese
1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and leaves chopped, for garnish

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until a little less than al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain the pasta again.

Put the chipotles and adobo sauce in a small food processor and blend. Alternatively, you can remove the chiles from the can, chop them, then add them back to the sauce.

Add the mac sauce and pepper jack cheese to a large, heavy bottomed pot and cook over medium heat. Stir until the cheese is barely melted, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the chicken and 1/4 cup of the chipotle mixture, and stir. Taste, and add more chipotle mixture if desired (I like it pretty spicy) and salt to taste if needed. Add the cooked pasta, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the dish is nice and hot, up to another 5 minutes.

Spoon into bowl and top each with a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Serve immediately.


Beer Pairing Suggestion: IPA
Wine Pairing Suggestion: Malbec or Tempranillo

Mac Sauce

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (the GF Flour Blend also works well in this recipe)
1 teaspoon salt

Heat the milk in a pot over medium heat until it just starts to bubble, but is not boiling, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a separate, heavy bottomed pot. When the butter has melted, add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Slowly pour the warm milk, about 1 cup at a time, into the butter-flour mixture, whisking constantly. It will get very thick when you first add the milk, and thinner as you slowly pour in the entire 3 cups. This is normal.

Once all the milk has been added, set the pot back over medium-high heat, and continue to whisk constantly. In the next 1 to 3 minutes the sauce should come together and become silky and thick. Use the spoon test to make sure it’s ready. To do this, dip a metal spoon into the sauce-if the sauce coats the spoon and doesn’t slide off like milk, you’ll know it’s ready. You should be able to run your finger along the spoon and have the impression remain. Remove from heat and stir in the salt. Pour into a large measuring glass or bowl to stop the cooking process.

The Mac Sauce is ready to use immediately and does not need to cool. Store it in the fridge for a day or two if you want to make it ahead of time- it will get a lot thicker when refrigerated, so it may need a little milk to thin it out a bit when it comes time to melt in the cheese. Try melting the cheese into the sauce first, and if it is too thick then add milk as needed.



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