Spicy Mac and Cheese

Spicy mac and cheese is the perfect vehicle for jalapeno pepper goodness. All that dairy helps to neutralize the heat so that by the time it hits your tongue, there’s a nice spicy wallop followed immediately by mouth-mellowing cheese. This super creamy spicy mac and cheese is a take on the best macaroni and cheese ever. We’ve got a similar roux-based, rich, uber-cheesy sauce – and lots of it, so that the end result is nice and creamy. Baked mac and cheese that comes out dry just makes everyone sad. This one stays ooey, creamy, and gooey. And cheesy, which is our goal. It’s such a perfect, versatile dish, too—it’s delicious on its own, or next to a juicy steak, or topped with yummy grilled shrimp. Spicy mac and cheese will make your knees go weak…and it’ll make your guests never want to leave your house.

My gosh, I love mac and cheese.

INGREDIENTSspicy mac and cheese
1 box (16oz) of elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeños, finely chopped (remove seed and rinse for less heat)
¼ red onion, chopped
¼ cup shredded carrot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
8oz (about a cup and a half) Monterrey Jack, shredded
8oz Pepper Jack, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot cook pasta until al dente. Rinse with cold water, leaving some of the water in the pot so the pasta doesn’t stick, and set aside. In a large deep skillet or heavy saucepan, melt butter on low-medium heat. Add peppers, onion, carrot, and garlic and sauté for 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with cayenne and crushed red pepper, stir in flour, and cook mixture for about 3 minutes. Add the milk and bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer mixture for 2-3 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and grease a large baking pan or casserole dish. Drain pasta and add to a large bowl. Remove vegetable mixture from heat and stir in with macaroni. Stir in shredded Monterrey Jack and Pepper until cheese is melted and all ingredients are combined. Stir in chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. Transfer to baking dish and top with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven, dish it up, and serve! You won’t stop eating spicy mac and cheese until your plate is empty.

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