Friday, February 24, 2006

Super-Quick Spicy Mac & Cheese

As you all know, I have an unhealthy obsession with Rachel Ray (by unhealthy I mean because I cook everything she makes, thus not terribly healthy for my body...jeez!). And I have always been a fan of "real", homemade baked macaroni and cheese with the béchamel sauce and the gruyere cheese, but when you're in hurry, this version tastes (almost) as good as the original. The added chopped jalapeños give this recipe that extra bite we all seek in life!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4)

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni (3 cups)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • One 4-ounce can mild or hot chopped jalapeños or other green chiles, drained (1/2 cup)
  • Two 8-ounce packages of mixed shredded cheeses, such as Wisconsin and Vermont cheddars, or American and Monterey Jack
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and stir in the pasta. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and shake well.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat your broiler.
  3. In a saucepan, heat 2 cups of the milk and the butter over medium-low heat.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the cornstarch until smooth.
  5. When the milk and butter come to a boil, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, stirring, until the milk returns to a boil. Stir in the chiles and then the cheeses, reserving a handful of cheese.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the pasta. Pour the mixture into a large casserole, sprinkle with the reserved cheese and broil until the top is golden, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve hot.

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