I have been craving cheese like no ones business lately. Maybe I am just getting excited for cheese club to start in a couple of weeks? Anyways, I had some jack cheese and cheddar in the fridge that needed to be used up. In addition I had a jar of jalapeno slices in the cupboard. The combination of those ingredients inspired me to do a macaroni and cheese with a Mexican flair.
I decided to put the jalapenos in the topping because I don't care for things mixed in with the cheese and noodles. A good breadcrumb topping can make or break macaroni and cheese, but I still like to get creative with it sometimes. If you don't mind additions to the cheese and noodles, go ahead and add the jalapenos to the cheese sauce. A quick tip on telling when the milk has thickened to the right point. Using a spoon, run your finger in a line down the back and if it holds the line it is ready.
1 pound pasta (penne, rigatoni, spirals, fusilli etc.)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups (6 ounces) monetary jack cheese, grated
1 cup (4 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, plus some for the topping, grated
4 slices of whole wheat bread
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup jalapeno slices
- Preheat oven to 400F. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente (under cooked, about 2 minutes less than normal).
- In a food processor, combine the bread slices, oregano and cumin, pulsing to make crumbs. Add the jalapeno slices into the food processor, and pulse 4 times to give them a coarse chop and to combine.
- In a medium pot heat 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and add 4 tablespoons of flour, whisking constantly until thickened and golden. Add both milks and increase heat to medium-high. Whisk until combined and small bubbles form around the edge, reducing heat to medium until thickened.
- Add the jack cheese and cheddar, stirring until melted. Add the noodles stirring to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and top with the bread crumb and cheese mixture. Place in the oven and cook until the top is melted and golden (about 10 minutes). Enjoy!