I am very excited to introduce my friend Sarah to you guys. She is an excellent cook, and has written this guest post about her AMAZING macaroni and cheese. I hope you enjoy, and I apologize in advance for the half eaten brat in the picture below. Please focus on the macaroni...I should have took the photo before I ate, but I was just so stinking hungry...anyway, I hope you enjoy Sarah's post and really try this, it is great!
Lainey and I have bonded over our love for food, and I was very excited when she asked if I would share one of my favorite recipes with you.--a rich macaroni and cheese with a little bit of heat, just in time for the fall chill. I think this macaroni is wonderful, but I have to warn you that it's also a little bit evil...because it's tempting to eat so much of it!
For me, enjoying food is a way to practice unconditional love. I come from a family where one of your birthday gifts was getting to choose a special dinner, where every event (major and not-so-major) is commemorated with a thoughtful meal, and where we recount our vacations through the wonderful restaurants we tried.
So to "share the love," here's a favorite recipe for a very comforting, crowd-pleasing dish. I've served this at Easter dinner alongside a pork tenderloin, and its most recent appearance was at a football tailgate with beer brats! I really hope you enjoy!
Chipotle Macaroni and Cheese
(Serves 12-16, prep time 30 min, cook time 60 min)
1/2 stick salted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups half-and-half
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 pound dry macaroni or cavatappi
2 lbs extra-sharp cheddar (preferably white), grated
4-6 hefty tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup panko breakcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350-F.
Cook macaroni in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente (pasta will continue to soften while baking).
Melt butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, then add flour and cook while whisking about 1-2 minutes until bubbly and puffy. Add mustard and whisk to remove clumps. Gradually add half-and-half, whisking to ensure incorporation of butter/four mixture. Bring to simmer, stirring often--simmer about 3 minutes. Remove from heat & gradually stir in grated cheese until fully melted and mixed. Add chipotle peppers to taste.
Drain pasta and transfer into an over-sized mixing bowl. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to mix.
Transfer mixture from bowl to one 9x13 baking dish or two 9x9 baking dishes.
Dust top with breadcrumbs.
Bake uncovered 1 hour or until bubbly. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead of time, but increase baking time to 90 min and place baking dish in cold oven so the pan pre-heats along with the oven.)
Chipotle peppers: don't scrape off the sauce, but don't spoon in extra sauce either--keep the seeds and the juice inside the peppers. I recommend chopping the whole can, and adding 1-2 tablespoons at a time--taste-test to ensure the right amount of heat for your crowd. I usually use nearly a whole can, save 1-2 tablespoons. Keep in mind this gets hotter over time--if you're making this the day before or heating up leftovers, you can expect it to be a bit hotter.
Flour: measure the flour into a flour-sifter and sift into the butter--this is the best way to prevent clumping
Cheddar: spring for the good stuff--I highly recommend Cabot Extra-Sharp white cheddar if you can find it. (They sell a 2-lb block if you have a food processor to help with the shredding.)
Breadcrumb topping: I'm not one for a crunchy crust on my macaroni & cheese, so I like a light panko dusting just for looks. If you wanted, you could prepare some fresh breadcrumb topping with 3 T salted butter, 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, and 2 cups course fresh breadcrumbs. Heat butter in skillet on medium heat until foam goes away. Add garlic & breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs are golden. Top casserole before baking.
Other: I haven't figured out how to make the whole recipe fit into one 9x13 baking dish, so I usually set aside a cereal-bowl-sized-amount for later! If cooking for a smaller crowd, I recommend putting this into two 9x9 pans and freeze one--it thaws and cooks perfectly!