Macaroni and cheese. Who doesn’t love it? There’s not a dish that’s more associated with comfort food than this American classic.
For this Spicy Mac ‘n’ Cheese, I took inspiration from a pile of jalapeno peppers I had on hand, as well as some Hot Habanero Jack cheese from Tillamook that I found. This really is a spiced-up, grown-up mac ‘n’ cheese unlike anything I’ve made in the past. The kick is real, people.
Spicy Mac ‘n’ Cheese
1 cup diced white onion (about 1/2 onion)
1 pound dry elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups shredded Tillamook Medium Cheddar
1 1/2 cups shredded Tillamook Hot Habanero Jack
1/2 cup butter (divided into 3 and 5 tablespoon portions)
1 jalapeno, fine diced with seeds and ribs removed
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In the same pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add diced onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until soft. Add diced jalapeno and cook another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and continue to stir for 2 minutes to cook flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in milk and continue to cook until sauce thickens.
Once sauce is thick, remove from heat and stir in 1 cup shredded cheddar and 1 cup Habanero Jack, stirring until melted. Fold in macaroni until well combined.
Pour mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle top with the rest of the cheese (1/2 cup each). Melt 5 tablespoons butter and stir in 1 cup breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper, plus 1 tablespoon dried parsley for color. Carefully spread breadcrumb mix on top of dish to cover.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese starts to bubble and breadcrumb topping starts to brown on top.