Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Poblano Macaroni and Cheese for Cookbook Spotlight: "The Homesick Texan Cookbook"

I'm continuing my adventure of cooking along with a group of bloggers to The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain. Last week's (Not) Pork Tacos, Dallas Gas Station Style and Austin Style Black Beans were two delicious recipes, and I had high hopes for this week's recipe assignment, Poblano Macaroni and Cheese. I did have a brief (a very, very, brief) thought about making a non-dairy version but sometimes you just have to have the real thing--so I made a half-batch. This recipe is complete indulgence--creamy, cheesy, with smoky, slightly spicy notes, and it takes your regular macaroni and cheese up a level or two.

Poblano Macaroni and Cheese
from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
(Makes 8 Servings)

2 Poblano chiles
8 oz elbow pasta (I used mini rotini)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 tsp of mustard powder
1/4 tsp of cayenne powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 Cup of chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Cups of grated white cheddar (12 oz)
1/2 Cup of Cotija cheese

Roast the poblano chilies under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place the chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly, and let the for 20 minutes. Take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stem and seeds and chop the chiles into 1-inch long pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to your package's directions ad then drain the pasta. (You want the pasta to be cooked but not mushy; I cook my pasta for 5 minutes.)

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a large baking dish or a large cast-iron skillet, and pour the drained pasta into the dish.

In a pot (you can use the pot the pasta cooked in or you can do this while the pasta boils), on low heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and stir until it's thickened a bit but still fluid, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro, and chopped poblano chiles. Adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper.

Slowly add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it's melted and well combined into the sauce. (If the sauce has cooled too much and the cheese won't melt, return the pot to low heat on the stove seems a little thick return it to the stove until soft again. If however, the sauce gets too thick, like a custard, you can thin it by stirring in milk, a teaspoon at a time.) Pour sauce over pasta and top with the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese, and serve immediately.

The Homesick Texan suggests: Try adding cooked bacon, chorizo, chicken, squash, or corn to the macaroni and cheese before baking. You can also substitute pepper Jack for some of the cheddar if you like. And if you like a crunchy top, add crushed tortilla chips before baking.

Notes/Results: Wow! I think that maybe all macaroni and cheese needs to have roasted poblanos in it, their toasty, sweet chile taste adds so much to the cheese and pasta. Of course anything with cumin in it makes me melt and the lime zest added just the right note of brightness to all the creaminess. The white cheddar made for a creamy decadent sauce and the Cotija (essentially a Mexican version of feta) added a pleasing saltiness. I did bake crushed tortilla chips on top for a little extra crunch. (I used these Tostitos Artisan Chips that I am completely addicted to and can no longer have in my house because I eat WAY too many of them I have become quite fond of.) Yes, I was a little sad that I only made a half-recipe's worth of this because it is so good--but my thighs are pretty proud of me. ;-) A winner of a recipe.

Tune in next week for "blogger's choice"--where we will each be picking our own recipes to try.

*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef*


  1. Talk about will power! I would've used up at least a years-worth had I tried to limit myself to half a batch ;) As a matter of fact, I'm making a double batch next go 'round. ha ha ha... Seriously, yours looks fabulous, and I couldn't agree more with your thoughts on this awesome mac & chz.

  2. I just HAVE to make this immediately after all of these rave reviews...my self control will certainly be thrown out the window...and I'm strangely okay with that.

  3. ah mac & cheese I've been thinking of making some...too bad I can't get poblano here...looks and sounds awesome!

  4. This looks very, very good. I would love the poblanos with a bit of chorizo (my thighs are yelling at me right now). This cookbook has been haunting me; I may have to squeeze some room on my shelf for it.

  5. I love that you topped your mac with the tortilla chips. Having that little bit of crunch would've made it even more delicious. It looks absolutely comforting and delicious. Wish I had some right now!

  6. This looks so yummy and cheesy! Love it!

    Maria @ A Platter of Figs

  7. Your Poblano Macaroni and Cheese looks absolutely delicious. I really can't wait to make this recipe. Thanks for sharing and hope you are having a great day!
    Miz Helen

  8. Deb, this looks fantastic... I'm just finishing my first bowl right now, and your will power is inspiring, but I'm still thinking about seconds. :) Great job!

  9. I SHOULD have made a half batch. Can we say overeat? I love looking at everyone's photos!

  10. half a batch, your so strong..lol I almost ate half the batch myself!! lol looks great!!

  11. Great job, I can't wait to see what you choose for the free week..

  12. girlichef--Thanks! At least you shared with the family. I consumed my half-batch myself. ;-)

    Joanne--I am sure you would love this. Maybe add some squash. ;-)

    Kat--this is a good one--I wish you could get some poblanos there to try it. ;-)

    Arlene--chorizo would be a wonderful addition, although it has plenty of decadent flavor on its own. ;-)

    Kim--the crunch was nice but it would have been just as tasty without. Yours looked so creamy!

    Maria--thank you! ;-)

    Miz Helen--thank you! Can't wait to see yours. ;-)

    Erin--Oh, I definitely had seconds... and thirds... ;-)

    Miranda--it is pretty hard to resist isn't it? ;-)

    vianney--Sadly, I did eat that 1/2 batch myself! ;-)

    Foodness Gracious---thanks! I think it will be fun to see what everyone chooses next week. ;-)

  13. I'll have to top mine next time I make it with some tortilla chips.

  14. Hi Deb,
    Your Mac N Cheese looks so delicious, it is a great recipe. Thanks for sharing and hope you are having a great week end!
    Miz Helen

  15. I had no self-control whatsoever with this delectable mac & cheese!

  16. What a great use for the few Poblanos we still have left from the garden. It's been a while since I've had a good mac and cheese too so this is perfect.

  17. I haven't had Mac'n'Cheese in YEARS! I'm going to go and make this for my very next meal! Yum!

  18. I was looking for a good mac & cheese recipe when I found your blog. I do wish I could get the carb count of this recipe.


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