When the temperatures dip below zero for over a week straight, the spice factor of dishes made in my kitchen spikes way up. And isn’t this as it should be? With a dish of chipotle smoked cheddar mac and cheese set on the table, everybody warms up and starts feeling lively again.
This recipe, as you can imagine, is a crowd pleaser. What is not to love?
Smoked Tillamook cheddar and Asiago cheeses……check. A simple recipe, and rich wonderful smells in the kitchen. Perfect. My loved ones are partial to most anything with chipotle, including chocolate: and if you haven’t tried Chocolove out of Boulder, Colorado “Chipotle Cherry in Dark Chocolate” bars….well… you simply must. But let’s gently get back to our recipe at hand – it is wonderful. There ARE chipotles here too – smoked jalapeno peppers in adobo (tomato sauce) to the uninitiated – bringing a zing and a smile to the dish.
Choose whatever pasta pleases you – I’m partial to Tinkyada Pasta Joy rice pasta, being a gluten free girl. The cheese sauce is a classic one, use a non-dairy milk such as unsweetened almond or hemp if you like, or stick to the original milk or half & half. All are sure to please. As an extra special note: another current variation on this recipe was made as a surprise for my son’s birthday last month. Alas, we were too blown away by the array of seafood extravaganzas I’d prepared as a surprise dinner to have our wits about us to snap a few photos, but one of the features was a lobster smoked English cheddar mac and cheese made with fusilli pasta…..with lemon sole roast red pepper rouladen, and a beautiful broiled sockeye salmon fillet au poivre served alongside….
Oh yes – bring on the mac – fresh out of the oven close up of the chipotle smoked cheddar mac and cheese:
Chipotle Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese
Makes a two quart casserole.
- 12 oz. dried pasta shape of choice
- 1 thick slice bread, cut or torn into small pieces
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 quart casserole dish. Make cheese sauce and cook pasta simultaneously. Set a large pot of water to boil, and cook your 12 oz. choice of pasta until al dente (tender but with a little bite). Drain in colander. Return to pot.
- 6 tbsp. butter
- 1/3 c. flour (GF blend or choice)
- 2 1/2 c. milk, half & half, unsweetened almond, hemp, soy or other milk
- pinch of salt
- 1 minced chipotle pepper
- 2 c. shredded smoked cheddar cheese (I’ve been on a smoked cheddar kick! – Tillamook brand is great -their milk cows fed a pure diet)
- 1/4 c. Asiago (or Romano, Parmesan) cheese
Melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and let simmer a minute or two. slowly add milk, and whisk until thickened. Add salt, chipotle, then cheeses, blending well. Turn heat to low and simmer a few minutes, taste and adjust salt and/or chipotle pepper if desired.
In a small skillet, melt the 2 tbsp. butter, then sauté garlic until fragrant and golden. Add bread crumbs and stir to coat with butter. Set aside.
Pour cheese sauce over drained pasta in pot, stirring to combine. Turn mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Scatter bread crumbs over the top, and bake on center rack of preheated oven, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes, until cheese sauce is bubbling nicely around the edges.
Dinner last night….with a nice side of 2012 garden vegetables….