This was really fantastic. I made it a few weeks ago, and we devoured the whole pot in less than twenty-four hours! I found it in my newest book, “The Homesick Texan Cookbook.” I highly recommend this one, it was so flavorful, cheesy, not too spicy, but definitely tasted like the Southwest. Enjoy!
2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
8 oz. elbow macaroni
2 tbs unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups grated sharp white cheddar
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled (I subbed in goat cheese)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it generously and boil the macaroni according to package directions, but undercook it a little. I cooked mine for five minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, preheat your oven to 375 F. In your cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Don’t burn it. Whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and stir until it’s thickened a bit, about 2 minutes or so. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro, and chopped poblano chiles. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slowly add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it’s melted and well combined into the sauce. If it has cooled too much and the cheese won’t melt, just return it to low heat. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat it evenly. Top with the remaining half of cheddar. Cook in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese and serve immediately.
As per the author’s suggestion, I added crisped bacon to mine because I had some that needed using up. She suggests adding either cooked bacon, crumbled chorizo, shredded chicken, squash, or corn to the mac and cheese for some flavor variations.