Once you start showing off what you’ve managed to learn to make in the kitchen (say, on a blog for example), you have to take a certain level of responsiblity when friends and family start making certain food assumptions about what you’ll prepare for them when you invite them over. I became accutely aware of that fact earlier this week when my friend Travis asked what I was going to be serving at my weekly Walking Dead viewing party and dinner:
Travis: “What are you making tonight, Gary?”
Me: “I’m making this amazing jalapeno popper mac and cheese.”
Travis: “Cool… what else?”
Me: “What do you mean what else?”
Travis: “I mean… what side dishes to compliment it? And what… no dessert?”
I guess my days of gliding by with spaghetti and meatballs served on plastic plates I stole from my college dining commons are over, but I’ll happily leave that era in my past. MG often reminds me of my typical day’s food rundown from our first year or so of dating. I don’t recall, but apparently I lived exclusively on Hot Pockets, McDonalds and Tombstone frozen pizzas. I’m guessing MG is happy I’ve left those days behind as well.
On to the mad mac and cheese recipe…
It’s not going to win any awards for keeping your arteries shiny and clear, and it may cause your eyes to spontaneously cross every few bites, but it is deadly satisfying in the way really bad Catholic sins are satisfying. And don’t worry about preparing anything else to go alongside it. Trust me, it is not necessary. This meal is covered in cheese, and since the cheese stands alone, this meal does as well.
Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces dry pasta (cavatappi was listed in the recipe, but I used mostaccioli – just make sure it’s hollow)
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 jalapeño chiles, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced
- 2 serrano chiles, seeded, ribs removed and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 8 ounces cream cheese, sliced into cubes
- 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
- 8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded Mexican-blend cheese
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and place back into the pot off heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Stir in jalapeños, serranos and garlic – cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add to the pot with the drained pasta.
Preheat the broiler.
In the same saucepan, add milk, cream cheese and onion – heat over medium-low, stirring, until very smooth, about 5 minutes. Pour in to the pot with the pasta and add the cheese – season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, tossing well to coat. Scoop mixture into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Place under the broiler and bake until lightly browned on top, about 3 to 5 minutes.