May 4, 2009

Chipotle Mac-and-Cheese

It's all in the sauce, baby. That powdered orange crap is for kids. This savory, smoky and only slightly hot mac-and-cheese is comfort food for grownups.

2 pounds macaroni
4 cups milk (maybe swap out some of that with half-and-half)
1 pound jack cheese, shredded
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. pulverized mustard seed
2 tsp. chives
parsley, salt, black pepper to taste
1 cup all-purpose flour

Boil macaroni until al dente in well-salted water. Add the flour to the milk while still cold. Then in large sauce pan, heat the milk on a low flame, and do not allow to boil. Stir constantly. Add spices to milk. When milk is warm and starting to steam, add cheese, about 1/4 pound at a time, stirring constantly, until entire mixture is a thick liquid. Pour on pasta, mix well. Serve hot.

The stirring is important so the flour and cheese do not settle out of the bechamel and cook on the bottom of your pan. The flour keeps the oils in the cheese from separating out and it will not mix with a hot liquid. If powdered chipotle is unavailable, canned chipotle peppers with adobo sauce can be minced and added after the first dose of cheese instead. Do not use liquid mustard in place of the pulverized mustard seeds; it has a similar flavor but many liquid mustards have soybean oils, sugar or honey, or vinegar added, which will interact badly with your dairy-based sauce.

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