Ay! My Mom…. I can’t take her anywhere. It was 15 years ago, I was navigating my way through the food scene here in Los Angeles. Trying out all the newest hot spots with the most promising chefs hidden behind closed cooking quarters. Now I couldn’t go out to eat by myself, so a lot of times I would drag my best companion along with me, my Mom. Even though she would kick and scream the whole ride there complaining “It better not be fancy or pretentious, you know how much I hate that.” I would ignore her worries knowing we were in for a culinary treat, something that would expand our minds and our palates. The only snag with my Mom is that she is a vegetarian and was always concerned that they wouldn’t have anything she could order off the menu. I constantly reassured her that most places served pasta for sure.
As we became familiar with the food scene, we also became familiar with the most amazing mac and cheese. That became my Mother’s target dish, and she wanted to test them all to see who was the best in the city. Her scale was a bit askew because she didn’t really base her liking on the actual mac and cheese. As soon as she would order her dish, she would ask the waitress if they had salsa or chile in the back that she could eat with her mac and cheese. She wasn’t satisfied with hot sauce, she wanted the hot mixture of freshly mashed chiles that was reserved for the cooks or the chef him/herself. I would shake my head in slight embarrassment, thinking why does she need chile in it? That is how she decided who made the best mac and cheese, based on if the chile she mixed in brought the right about of heat.
That experiment of hers prompted me to make a spicy mac and cheese with the chile mixed in. Of course I turned to my favorite, trusted product, Barilla Elbows. Its superior quality provides a great platform to build my traditional Latina flavors upon. She absolutely loved it, and I have been making her poblano mac and cheese ever since. Happy Mom equals happy daughter.
Ingredients for poblano mushroom mac and cheese:
- 2 – Serrano chiles
- 2 – poblano chiles
- 3 – cups half and half
- 1 – pound Barilla elbows (cooked al dente)
- 1 – pound pepper jack cheese (cubed)
- 1 – cup Oaxaca cheese (grated)
- 1 – cup mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 – stick butter
- 1 – cup onion (chopped)
- 7 – stalks green onion (chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 – cups Dubliner cheese (grated)
- 1 – cup bread shavings
- Place chiles on an open flame until skin is completely burned/charred.
- Place chiles in an airtight container to steam for at least 20 minutes.
- Remove chiles from container and under a slow stream of water peel off charred skin. Set to the side.
- In a blender, add in 1 cup of ½ and ½, and Serrano chiles (stems removed). Blend until smooth. Set to the side.
- In a large pot filled halfway with water. Bring to a boil. Add in Barilla elbows and cook for 7 minutes. Drain by removing from water and place elbows in a baking dish.
- Mix in pepper jack cheese cubes, Oaxaca cheese, and sliced mushrooms.
- Then slice up the poblano chiles and mix them into the elbow mixture along with the cheese and mushrooms. Set to the side.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium sauce pan over a medium flame, melt butter. Add in onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add in green onion, mix to combine, and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Pour spicy cream from the blender into the butter mixture, and mix to combine. Then add in the remaining 2 cups of ½ and ½. Let the mixture heat for about 4 to 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the spicy butter cream over the elbow mixture.
- Top with grated Dubliner cheese, and bread shavings.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
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