I used to despise super-spicy foods. I would say that food shouldn’t hurt. I was a sissy.
Now, I say: Bring it on! I mean, within reason, and with a glass of milk nearby to tame the fire if it gets too out of control. I may not be totally wimpy about heat any longer, but a reformed sissy’s still gotta be prepared.
Especially when said sissy can’t help but stuff a ginormous bite of Jalapeno Mac & Cheese into her gullet.
Macaroni and cheese is the perfect vehicle for jalapeno pepper goodness. All that dairy helps to neutralize the heat so that by the time it hits your tongue, there’s a nice spicy wallop followed immediately by mouth-mellowing cheese.
This super creamy mac and cheese is a take on the best macaroni and cheese ever. We’ve got a similar roux-based, rich, uber-cheesy sauce – and lots of it, so that the end result is nice and creamy. Baked mac and cheese that comes out dry just makes everyone sad.
This one stays ooey, creamy, and gooey. And cheesy.
My gosh, I love mac and cheese.
I added some smoked cheddar to the mix, along with two whole jalapeno peppers, seeds and all. A couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce, and it’s the bee’s knees. (Can you name that movie?)
So here’s the thing about Jalapeno Mac & Cheese. The amount of heat in the end result depends on two things:
1) The amount of seeds you include and 2) The heat in your jalapeno peppers, which can vary widely (but see this post by Simply Recipes for tips that should help!)
I recommend taking a quick taste of your jalapenos to see just how spicy they really are. If they seem pretty mild, maybe go ahead and use the whole thing, seeds and all (well, cut off the stem first). And even then, again depending on your peppers, your mac may not have a super-insane kick.
On the flip side, if your jalapenos are super hot, you may want to add just a few of the seeds from one of the peppers. And the end result may still may be too hot for you.
So while it’s kind of frustrating that you can’t guarantee the exact same outcome every time you make this, I opt to embrace that fact. It’s like Christmas morning. What are we going to get?!!
Note: No matter the heat level, this is still an insanely delicious, cheesy, over-the-top creamy mac and cheese. Sissy swear.
Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
- 8 oz. 1/2 pound or roughly 1¾ cups, depending on your pasta medium-size elbow macaroni or other medium tubular pasta like penne
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2½ cups milk (whole or 2% works)
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup grated smoked cheddar cheese (divided)
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup medium cheddar cheese (divided)
- 2 medium jalapeno peppers (stems removed and finely diced (include seeds for spicier chili; leave them out for a milder version))
- 1 teaspoon jalapeno Tabasco sauce (or more to taste)
- Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, drain. Return to the pan you boiled it in and set aside. (Toss in a little butter or olive oil to help keep the noodles from sticking together if it’s going to be awhile before you make the sauce)
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Add the flour, dry mustard, salt, and black pepper. Whisk constantly over medium heat for about three minutes.
- Continue stirring with the whisk and slowly pour in the milk.
- Whisk frequently for about 5 minutes, and then constantly for another 5 minutes or so, until the sauce heats and thickens.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of the smoked cheddar, 1 cup of the medium cheddar, jalapeno peppers, and Tabasco sauce, stirring until the cheese has melted.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss gently until coated.
- Add half the noodles to a two quart casserole dish and sprinkle on half of the remaining cheeses.
- Add the remaining pastas and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
- Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.for about 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.