Chipotle Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and my “Creamy Pasta” recipe is easy enough to make whenever you get the craving for it.

Steakhouses have started this trend of chipotle (let’s all say it together, now: chi-poht-lay) mac and cheese—and I like it. I’ve modified my creamy pasta recipe to turn it into a chipotle mac and cheese that’s to.die.for. and just one simple step more complicated than the original recipe. You can thank me later.

Chipotles in adobo sauce are smoked jalapenos soaked in a sauce with paprika, vinegar, garlic, among other components. They’re delicious and really versatile and can be found in the aisle with the Mexican ingredients, like chiles and salsas and enchilada sauce. I get the Embasa brand and recommend it, though I’m (unfortunately) not endorsed by them. 😦

The only bummer about these guys is that you usually only need one at a time. So try to dedicate a week to all-things chipotle:

  • make this mac and cheese
  • use one or two in a pot of chili
  • make a smoky grilled chicken breast out of them
  • substitute your usual hot sauce for a teaspoon or two of this sauce
  • use it in a gratin or baked potato
  • make chipotle butter with some and slather it on grilled corn or shrimp
  • make homemade chipotle mayonnaise
  • stir some sauce into refried beans
  • marinade some carne asada in the sauce
  • freeze the leftovers individually.

Now to the good stuff:

What you need*:

  • Cooked short pasta–macaroni, farfalle, penne, etc. I used cellentani, which are long corkscrews with ridges so the sauce really sticks. Use about 3 cups cooked.

    Cellentani
  • Cream (heavy whipping, whipping, or half and half.  Whatever you normally keep on hand!). Useenough to cover the bottom of the pan completely.
  • Butter. Use 1 1/2 Tbsp.
  • 1 Chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce.
  • Smoked Fontina, Cheddar or Gruyere. My favorite so far is the fontina. Use about 1 1/2 cups, shredded.
  • Sharp Cheddar. Use about an ounce or two shredded.
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

What to Do:

  1. In a medium-sized pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and cook for about a minute.

    Fry the chipotle and adobo sauce in the butter
  3. Pour cream until it covers the bottom of the pan.  I usually tilt the pan and if I can see the bottom of the pan when I tilt it, I add a little more cream.  Remember, you don’t need a lot, but enough to completely cover the bottom of the pan!.
  4. Once the butter and cream mixture starts to bubble (and it will!  It’ll be a frothy bubble), turn the heat down slightly and add the cooked pasta.  Stir to coat.

    Add pasta when sauce looks like this
  5. Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Stir again.
  6. Add a small handful of the cheeses and stir again to melt.  I always taste the pasta here and see if it needs more anything–salt, pepper, or cheese.  Then add as needed.
  7. Continue to heat, stirring constantly.  It sometimes takes a while to thicken.  Don’t worry if it looks thin.  Just stop stirring, turn the heat OFF and let it sit for about a minute.  The sauce will thicken on its own and you’ll have a really yummy creamy pasta!

    All Done!

*all measurements are an estimate, as I cook by sight and taste. Taste as you go and decide for yourself if you need more cheese. Always start off safe (read: less) and then add as you go. As far as the cream goes, I’ve never had a problem with my method of filling up the bottom of the pan and scraping a silicone spatula along the bottom to see if I can see the bottom of the pan or not. If you can, add a little more cream.

Smoky, Spicy Goodness
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