You want me to tell you where I got the idea for this mac and cheese Mexicano? I make this really yummy poblano chili sauce that I use on so many things. I made that sauce super cheesey, added some vegetables, dropped in some pasta, and there you have Mac and Cheese Mexicano - and it is so good.
- 450 g (1 lb) penne or elbow-shaped pasta
- 3 large poblano chiles (about 340g or ¾ lb), rinsed, stemmed, seeded and cut into large chunks
- 700 ml milk
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter plus more for buttering the dish
- ⅓ cup plus 3 tsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- ¾ tsp kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 cups grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese plus 1 cup for topping
- 1 cups grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano-Reggiano cheese plus ½ cup for topping
- 30 ml olive oil
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 1 cup corn kernels shaved from the cob or thawed from frozen
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 5 to 6 slices of bacon, fried and cut into chunks (optional)
- ¼ tsp kosher or coarse sea salt or to taste, extra
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Butter a large baking dish.
In the jar of a blender, puree the poblano chiles and milk until completely smooth. Strain into a bowl, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to make sure you get mostly liquid.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it has melted and begins to bubble, add the flour. Cook, stirring continuously to make a roux or paste until you get the desired color (I go for light brown and a toasty aroma), about 2 minutes. Pour the poblano chile mixture into the roux or paste, stirring as you do. Add salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes, occasionally stirring. If it gets lumpy, you can smooth the sauce by beating with a whisk. Add 3 cups of mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese or and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano, mix well, remove from heat and stir until well combined.
In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until completely soft and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for a couple minutes. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with the remaining ¼ tsp salt, mix well and set aside. We don’t want to cook the zucchini here, as it will cook in the oven.
In the large pot, where the pasta was cooked, add the drained pasta, poblano chile sauce and sautéed vegetables, gently toss to mix. If using fried bacon, add it in here! Pour into a buttered baking dish, top with the remaining grated cheeses and place in the oven until the top layer of cheese has melted and begun to crisp along the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.