Friday, September 9, 2011

poblano macaroni and cheese {cooking from the homesick texan}

i grew up in
a waspy neighborhood
too rude?
perhaps i should say
well heeled
cotillion on tuesday
how we landed there
bronx bred
italian family
moving in
must have been quite the shocker
a very dark man
(my father)
doing his own landscaping
seemed to be
equally disturbing
i tell you this
so you'd understand

it wasn't until my thirteenth year
that i discovered macaroni and cheese
while babysitting

mrs. ran me through the schedule
bath, bedtime
no tv
no prank calls

and for dinner?
i queried

pointing to
a little blue box on the counter
she said
the girls love macaroni and cheese

...out it came
in my not so soft voice
lilting to a question

is that what is in the box?

to which
i got the look
it made me feel

it. is. true.
i didn't know
macaroni and cheese
came in a blue box
to me
was a big plate of pasta
meatballs and sausage
cheese came in wheels, grated tableside

i think she felt sorry for me

fast forward more than 30 years
in of which
i have eaten 
many a mac n' cheese
from scratch
none being
a healthy eat

this one
the fresh bite of citrus and cilantro
combined with the warmth
poblano and cayenne
to cut through the dull sludge
gobs of  gooey dairy
which most macaroni and cheese recipes
hide behind
wrapping this fabulous meal
in the illusion
spa food

  *This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted at girlichef
  poblano macaroni and cheese
8 servings
2 poblano chiles
8 oz (2 cups) elbow macaroni
2 Tbs unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic--minced
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup cilantro--chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups (12 oz) grated white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup cojita cheese--for serving
roast the poblano chiles under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side.  place chiles in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly, and let the chiles steam for 20 minutes.  take the chiles out of the bag and rub off the skin. remove stem and seeds and chop the chiles into 1" long pieces
bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta.  cook according to your package's directions and then drain the pasta.  (you want the pasta to be cooked but not mushy; i cook my pasta 5 minutes.)
preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  grease a large baking dish or cast iron skillet, and pour the drained pasta into the dish.
in a pot (you can use the pot the pasta cooked in or you can do this while the pasta boils), on low heat melt the butter. add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about 1 minute.  whisk in the milk and stir until it's thickened a bit but still fluid, about 1 to 2 minutes. remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro and chopped poblano chiles. adjust seasonings and add salt and black pepper.
slowly add half of the cheddar cheese and stir until it's melted and well combined into the sauce.  (if the sauce has cooled too much and the cheese won't melt, return the pot to low heat on the stove.  if, however, the sauce gets too thick, like a custard, you can then thin it by stirring in milk, a teaspoon at a time.)  pour sauce over pasta and top with the remaining half of the cheddar cheese and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. sprinkle with cojita cheese, and serve immediately.


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