Sunday, August 23, 2009

I'm back! Plus Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes & Chipotle Peppers

Well, it's official. I've been a terrible blog owner for these past couple of weeks! But I do have a perfectly reasonable excuse. As some of you may know, I've spent over a year living in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), away from my family and friends, for work. On Friday, my internship came to an end, and Saturday morning I moved 200km west to return to my university town (and my very patient boyfriend). I've spent the past couple of weeks packing like a madwoman. I'm no longer a resident of the GTA, and will no longer have access to the same amazing resources and restaurants that were just a short subway ride away when I lived near Toronto. Still, I know I'll find new ones.

In the meantime, my new home (and old home, since I lived here before moving to the GTA) is a mess of boxes. After spending hours unpacking, there's still so much more to go. And I've got some blog housekeeping to do as well - updating my bio, catching up on comments, visiting my favourite blogs, and I was even lucky enough to receive an award that I haven't yet had time to pass on.

Still, with all of these things to do, and without knowing where half of my belongings are, I still have everything on hand to make this wonderful recipe - Southwestern macaroni and cheese with tomatoes and chipotle peppers.

I took my standby macaroni and cheese recipe and amped it up with Monterey Jack cheese, chipotle peppers, tomatoes and dried chorizo that was heated until crispy.

The mixture was poured into a casserole dish (or baking pan), topped with panko bread crumbs and more Monterey Jack cheese, and baked until it had thickened. I broiled it to get the top browned and crispy.

The result is a creamy, flavourful mac and cheese. The chipotle adds flavour, and provides a hint of spice that isn't overwhelming. The crispy chorizo adds a nice texture contrast to the creaminess of the pasta, and adds a rich bacon-like flavour. The tomato adds a bit of freshness to the whole dish. And the Monterey Jack cheese is a necessity - it makes sure the southwestern theme rings true in every element of the meal. I can't wait to buy more Jack cheese and make this again.

Southwestern Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes & Chipotle Peppers
Serves 4-6
Based on a Nestle recipe

1 2/3 cups (about 7 oz.) dry small elbow macaroni (preferably whole wheat), cooked and drained
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup water
Heaping 1/3 cup diced dried chorizo (if you can't find dried chorizo, you could substitute an equal amount of fresh chorizo, cooked and crumbled)
1 chipotle pepper, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese or "Mexican-blend" style pre-shredded cheese

Panko bread crumbs
Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish.

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add chorizo to pan. It will begin to render its fat and turn crispy. Stirring the chorizo occasionally, keep an eye on it and remove it from heat when it reaches a bacon-like crispiness. Drain the fat, and let chorizo rest on a plate covered with a paper towel, to soak up the excess oil.

Combine cornstarch, salt, mustard and pepper in medium saucepan. Stir in evaporated milk, water, and butter. Cook over medium-heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups cheese until melted. Add macaroni; mix well. Add chorizo, chipotle, and tomato. Since tomato sizes can vary, you may add less tomato to your taste. Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle panko bread crumbs over top, until a light, even layer of them is formed. Sprinkle a few tablespoons or so of cheese on top.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. If necessary, broil for a few minutes to brown the panko-cheese crust.


matty August 24, 2009 at 10:47:00 PM EDT  

I really hope to have this again soon!

Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 6:46:00 PM EDT  

Oh, yum. Your mac and cheese looks and sounds delicious. I hope your unpacking and move go quickly.

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