Sometimes you just need some comfort food. Two of my favorite comfort comfort foods are Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers and Mac N Cheese. Jalapeno Poppers make their kicky and creamy appearance at most any party spread around here. In one bite you can get a bit of peppery spice, bacon and cream cheese. So delicious and right. Mac N Cheese. I can not tell you how happy I am that Mac N Cheese has made a comeback and restaurants with gourmet cheesy goodness have popped up in most cities. The thicker and creamier the better for me. In honor of my son’s 4th birthday last week I made a gourmet version of what is quite possibly his favorite food and one of mine too. I dialed the flavor of traditional Mac N Cheese up a notch and made Jalapeno Popper Style Homemade Mac N Cheese.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ pound dried elbow pasta
- 1 cup grated Manchega
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
- ½ cup cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons Tobasco or Chalula sauce
- 1 small can drained diced jalapenos
- ½ cup Seasoned Panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons real bacon bits.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat the milk and heavy cream in a pan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble but is not boiling remove from heat.
- In a separate pan, heat the butter over medium heat.
- When it is completely melted, add the flour and whisk constantly.
- When the mixture is a light brown remove from heat.
- Then slowly pour the milk and heavy cream mixture over the flour mixture one cup at a time.
- Continue whisking. This mixture with the heavy cream will get extremely thick.
- After all the milk and cream has been added put the pan back on a medium high heat and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Drain and rinse.
- Add 2 cups of the cream and flour mixture that you just made along with the Manchega, cheddar, cream cheese, jalapenos, bacon bits, and Chalula sauce to a large pot and cook over medium heat.
- Continue cooking until the cheese just begins to melt which is about 3 minutes.
- Stir in your pasta to the sauce to blend thoroughly.
- Add the cheese and noodles to a large baking dish. Then top evenly with the bread crumbs and any extra grated cheese.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.
This recipe is a little more labor intensive than I usually do but it is so rich and creamy and such a delicious crown up twist on Mac N Cheese, I didn’t mind standing over a pot doing a little whisking. The sharp cheese, the smokey bacon, and the kick of the jalapeno in each perfect pasta bite is a party on a plate and is perfect comfort side for a dinner party or a weekend family meal.
This Jalapeno Popper Homemade Mac N Cheese brings together the best of two comfort foods and brings a rich delicious flavor twist on a childhood favorite. It’s not super spicy so I let my little guy try a bite. He’s still pretty hooked on the basic cheddar Mac N Cheese but he did have fun helping me make it. He had his version of his favorite and I had mine- comfort food with a kick.
This recipe was modified from one in The Mac N Cheese cookbook, a whole collection of gourmet Mac N Cheese recipes available at this Amazon affiliate link.