Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Roasted Jalapenos and Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

By Paul Briand

I rarely click on banner ads on web sites. But I clicked on one for a recipe from the folks at Cabot Cheese.

I couldn’t resist the combination of jalapenos and bacon with ooey-gooey macaroni and cheese.

Don’t be afraid of the jalapenos. The roasting and trimming process described in the recipe actually reduces the heat from the pepper.

(Full disclosure: I split the recipe in half so that half was made with the jalapenos and half made without for the sake of my wife Jane’s tender pallet.)

Since this is a Cabot Cheese recipe, its products are recommended, but feel free to substitute with your favorites as needed.

I found this recipe to be both time and pots and pans intensive, but well worth the effort.

2 fresh jalapeno peppers
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon, diced
3/4 cup panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons Cabot Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 cups whole milk, heated to just below simmer
12 ounces Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or Cabot 3 Year Cheddar, grated (about 3 cups)
Salt to taste
8 ounces dry garganelli or penne pasta

1. Roast jalapenos directly over stovetop gas burner or under preheated broiler, turning with tongs, until skins are blistered all over;
2. Transfer peppers to small plastic bag and let stand. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard stems, skin and seeds. Chop flesh into fine dice and set aside;
3. Cook bacon in skillet until lightly browned; after dicing, transfer with slotted spoon to small bowl. Add breadcrumbs, along with small amount of bacon fat to moisten, combining well;
4. In medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Let cook, stirring, for 2 minutes;
5. Gradually whisk in milk. Continue cooking, stirring often, until sauce is simmering and thickened. Let sauce bubble gently until quite thick, about 10 minutes longer, stirring often so it doesn't scorch on bottom;
6. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar; when cheese is melted, season sauce with salt as needed;
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente; drain and return to pot. Add cheese sauce and reserved jalapenos and stir together;
8. Transfer pasta to 2-quart baking dish or six individual ramekins. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned on top and bubbling throughout.

Click here for recipe card.
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1 comment:

CabotCoop said...

I love the jalapeno addition, too!Such great combos of flavor in this recipe! Thanks for the nod from our farm family owners of Cabot. ~Gail