Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

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Jalapeno chilies and cayenne pepper make this a grown-up version of a kid-favorite.

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C. finely chopped onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. minced pickled jalapeƱo chilies, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 C.) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 4 C. milk
  • 1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, well-drained, chopped, juice discarded
  • Cayenne to taste (optional)
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 1 1/2 C. coarsely grated Monterey Jack (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 C. coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 C. fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 1/3 C. freshly grated Parmesan (about 1/4 lb.)

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Directions

In a large heavy saucepan cook the onion, the garlic, the jalapeƱos, the coriander, and the cumin in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, stir in the flour, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the milk in a stream, whisking, bring the liquid to a boil, whisking, and whisk in the tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 2 minutes and add the cayenne and salt and pepper to taste.

In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the macaroni for 6-7 minutes, or until it is barely al dente, drain it well, and in a large bowl combine it with the tomato mixture. Stir in the Monterey Jack and the Cheddar and transfer the mixture to a buttered 13x9-inch shallow baking dish or 3-quart gratin dish. In a bowl stir together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the macaroni mixture, and bake the macaroni and cheese in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it is golden and bubbling.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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