Saturday, January 1, 2011

This non-traditional macaroni and cheese adds color to the holidays

My family doesn’t stick to tradition when it comes to Christmas dinner. We could do game hens one year, a big roast of some sort the next. I like it this way, especially with the memory of a turkey-and-all-the-fixings Thanksgiving feast in the not-so-distant past.

This year we decided to cook up a Mexican feast for Christmas Eve, and it gave me the perfect excuse to add my own twist to a recipe I’d been eyeballing in the December issue of Bon Appetit.

I wouldn’t normally consider eating macaroni and cheese with my chicken fajitas, but it worked. The poblano chiles give this mac and cheese a nice kick that went well with our tacos and burritos. Next time I’ll omit the cheddar and use all pepper jack for a little more heat.

Macaroni and Cheese with a Kick
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 ½ cups dry macaroni, boiled until al dente and drained
1 tablespoon corn oil
2 whole fresh poblano chiles, plus one cup fresh chopped poblano chile
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup red onion, chopped
1 ½ cups frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint whipping cream
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 ½ cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and pepper jack), divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Char whole chiles directly over gas flame or in a broiler until blackened on all sides. Transfer to a paper bag, seal, and let stand 15 minutes. Peel and seed chiles; puree in a food processor until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or bring the temperature down if you’ve already got the broiler on).

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. At chopped chile, bell pepper, onion, garlic and oregano. Sautee until soft, four or five minutes. Add corn and stir for about a minute. Add cream and chile puree and bring to a boil. Stir in 1 cup of cheese and all macaroni. Pour it all into a 9-by-13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup cheese, cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes.

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