I've recently discovered my love of the poblano chili. With that said, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that our second assignment in our Cook-off and Spotlight of the fabulous cookbook The Homesick Texan, we were making Poblano Macaroni and Cheese.
Over the Labor Day weekend, we invited friends over for food and fun and I knew this dish would be perfect to share with everyone. I'm just glad that our friends are willing and hopefully eager guinea pigs for my kitchen shenanigans.
Before we begin here, let me give you a little heads up.....in the stores here in the states (from what I've read and experienced), fresh poblanos are labeled as pasillas, which in reality (according to Wikipedia) is actually a dried chilaca pepper...and a dried poblano is called an ancho chili. How confusing is all that? Sooo....if you can't find anything in the produce section labeled as a poblano, look for a pasilla.
Poblano Macaroni and Cheese
2 poblano (aka pasilla) chiles
8 oz elbow pasta (2 cups)
2 TB unsalted butter
4 cloves minced garlic
2 TB flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 cups grated while cheddar cheese (12 oz)
1/2 cup Cotija cheese
Under the broiler, roast your poblanos until blackened. This will take about 5 minutes per side. And we're not talking about 2 sides. It could be 3 or 4 sides....depending on the shape of your chili. Don't rush the process....but keep an eye on things. While you're at it...make sure you thoroughly enjoy the aroma. It's heavenly. The smokey sweetness of it all......mmmmm
Once they're roasted, stick em in a plastic bag and let 'em steam for a while....say...20 minutes. Remove from the bag and peel off the skin, remove the stem and seeds...
Then cut that roasted baby into 1" long pieces. Set aside.
While all this is going on....cook your pasta according to package instructions. But don't over cook them....maybe a little less than al dente. You don't want pasta paste once everything's said and done.
About now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375' and grease a casserole dish. If your pasta is done....pour it into the prepared dish and let it sit there while you make cheese the sauce
Next, you're going to start on your roux. Over low heat, melt the butter, then add the garlic and cook for about a minute tops...I recommend stirring the whole time so your garlic doesn't burn. Burned garlic is rather yucky. Whisk in the flour and cook, while whisking, until it becomes a light toasty brown color. This part is important. The browning of the flour reduces the floury taste. The recipe says about a minute...I did it a bit longer.
Whisk in the milk and stir until it thickens....yet is still "fluid". Remove from heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro and poblano chiles.
Next, you're going to take half of the shredded cheese
I want to mention here....white cheddar is more expensive than regular cheddar cheese. Feel free to use the orange cheddar instead...or even go half white and half orange if you'd like. It's all good.
Slowly add the cheese to the sauce and stir until it melts and is well combined. At this point, if your sauce is too thick, add a little milk....about a teaspoon at a time. Which I did have to do. If the cheese won't melt because your sauce has cooled down too much....put the pan back on the stove over a low heat.
Pour the sauce over the pasta....
Then top with the remaining cheddar cheese
Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until its bubbly and brown. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese and serve
I enjoyed this dish....but I found the lime to be a bit over powering. I think...I may have added too much. I suspect that I added a tablespoons worth instead of the 1 tsp.... but I can't be sure. Next time...I'm going to use less....or I might just use lime juice instead of the lime zest. But it is definitely worth making again. I might take Lisa (the author) up on some of her recommendations for variations...I might substitute some of the cheddar with pepper Jack cheese and maybe add some bacon!! She also recommends topping it with some crushed tortilla chips for a nice crunchy top.....YUM!!!
I do absolutely love the poblano flavor is this dish!
*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at Girlichef*
Next week....I get to pick my own dish to spotlight. I just have to decide if I'm going to do bread or something sweet. Oh man...just looking through these recipes...my stomach is growling!