Mexican Macaroni and Cheese

I adore macaroni and cheese. I could eat a vat of it every day. But, of course, I can’t do that, so once in a while, when I really want to treat myself to something rich, creamy, and very comforting, I make macaroni and cheese. It is a very luxurious side dish for any meal, but it’s great to make as a casserole when you want to stay in, watch movies all day long, and just lounge around the house. A simple salad is all you need to go with it.

Recipe courtesy of Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi/Weinstein Books, 2007.

Mexican Macaroni and Cheese

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    2 tablespoons olive oil 4 cups whole milk
    1/2 cup diced shallots 2 cups ditalini or other very small elbow macaroni
    3 to 4 pickled jalapenos or pickled serrano chilies, minced 1 1/3 cups grated cheddar cheese
    1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano 1 cup grated mild jack cheese
    1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon turbinado or raw sugar 3 ounces (1/3 cup) goat cheese
    8 tablespoons (or 1 stick) butter


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    • 1

      In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and chilies, and stir. After 2 minutes, add the oregano. Lightly sprinkle the raw sugar over the shallots, and stir for 3 minutes. Once the shallots begin to caramelize and lightly brown, turn the heat to low, and add the stick of butter to the pan, chopping it and stirring it in.

    • 2

      After 2 minutes, add the milk and stir. Add the macaroni, and turn the heat back up to medium or medium low, being careful the milk doesn’t curdle. After another minute, sprinkle in 1 cup of cheddar cheese and then the mild jack cheese. Stir gently and add the goat cheese, slicing it with your spatula. Continue to stir gently, trying to prevent the cheese from clumping and increasing the heat as you see fit to speed the process. Heat and gently stir for 30 minutes.

    • 3

      Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    • 4

      Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese over the top to form a layer. Put the skillet in the oven for 10 minutes, then broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the cheddar is lightly browned, forming a crust. Serve immediately.

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