My family has several versions of Mac and Cheese. I grew up eating my Mom’s Mac and Cheese which was a variation on a recipe she learned from my grandmother. It was a staple around our house growing up and we loved it…good old fashioned comfort food at it’s best. My wife is a sucker for anything with cheese in it so she, naturally, loves a good Mac and Cheese. When we started dating I introduced her to adding jalapeno to our Mac and now she doesn’t ask for it any other way. We even ask them to add jalapeno when we order Mac and Cheese at restaurants, whether they offer it that way or not.
Working off of a base recipe for Classic 3-cheese Mac I have a recipe that I now use for us. It’s pretty straight forward but has a few tweaks to tailor it for our tastes. We like our Mac to be super cheesy and have a little spicy kick to it. I also like to use pasta for a local pasta maker. DeCio Pasta offers a Tri-Chili Fiesta Penne that is perfect for this recipe and love being able to use hand-crafted local pasta.
- 1 tbs fresh ground sea salt
- 1 tbs fresh ground black pepper
- ½ tsp Ancho Chili Powder
- 1-2 tsp Sriracha sauce
- diced jalapeno pepper (amount is up to you)
- diced Poblano pepper (1/2 a Poblano works well)
- 1 lb DiCio Pasta Tri-Chili Fiesta Penne (use any penne or cellantani)
- 6 tbs unsalted organic butter
- 6 tbs all-purpose flour
- 3 cups of whole organic milk
- 1 cup organic heavy cream
- ¾ lb aged white cheddar, shredded
- 4 oz Havarti, shredded
- 4 oz Asiago cheese, shredded
- 4 oz Romano cheese, shredded
- 1 cup of seasoned bread crumbs mixed with a little shredded cheese
- fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Boil pasta until al dente, drain and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat add butter. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until a good roux forms.
- Add cold milk and whisk continuously until roux is dissolved. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is thick and bubbly.
- Add salt, pepper, Sriracha, Chili Powder, heavy cream and all cheeses. Cook until cheeses are fully melted and cheese sauce is smooth, stirring as needed.
- Add cooked pasta and diced peppers to cheese mixture and fold together until the cheese completely coats all the pasta.
- Place pasta into a pre-heated greased baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Place in oven and bake for 12-20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and top is golden brown. I usually turn the broiler on toward the end to get a nice crispy brown top to the mac for Merelyn.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve while hot.
If I’m making this dish for myself I will usually crumble some crispy bacon on top or add some other meat to it. When Merelyn and I want to try something a little different we’ll mix other veggies in like sweet potato, squash, cauliflower or broccoli. This recipe can handle just about any addition.