March 9, 2012

Mexican macaroni and cheese

Baking dish of Mexican macaroni and cheese.

Next to meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. While I certainly love regular old mac n' cheese, I also love to change it up with different veggies, spices, etc. 

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Pureed butternut squash is one of my favorite macaroni and cheese add-ins as are cauliflower and broccoli. Recently though, I came across the Mexican macaroni and cheese recipe in Gourmet Today and was inspired to give a new twist to this classic dish. 

This was like a combination of macaroni and cheese and nachos. It was delicious. I think there are a couple of things that could be added such as diced tomatoes or a topping of cilantro that would take it even more over the top, but it's also really good as is.

Finished dish of Mexican macaroni and cheese.

If you are in the need of something creamy, gooey, and comforting with a little kick, this dish is a perfect choice. Serve as a main dish with a salad or as a side dish. Either way, it's sure to be a hit! 

Lastly, if you want a less-spicy sauce, you can use mild chiles and/or regular smoked paprika instead of hot. If you want an even spicier sauce, you can add more chiles or some hot sauce. 

Taste the sauce before you combine it with the pasta and adjust to your liking.

Mexican macaroni and cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup minced white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cans (4 oz. each) fire-roasted diced hot chiles
1 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
1 lb. rotini, or other pasta of your choice, cooked to just under al dente
1/3 cup finely crushed corn chips

Preheat the oven the 375 degrees. Lightly butter a large baking dish. Begin to cook your pasta.

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter along with the oregano and paprika. When the butter is melted, add the flour. Whisk and cook for about two minutes. Add the milk and whisk well. Continue to heat and whisk until the mixture begins to thicken.

When the milk mixture is thickened, stir in the chiles. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese one cup at a time until smooth and melted. Stir in the crema (or creme fraiche). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta and combine the pasta and cheese mixture in the pasta pot and stir gently until the pasta is all coated. Pour into the baking dish. Top with the crushed corn chips.

Bake in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and the top is golden. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then serve.

Scooped out portion of Mexican macaroni and cheese.


  1. Oooh...I so agree, mac & cheese is ultimate comfort food! and especially with fabulous add in flavors!! I love butternut squash too, but this one is very interesting and something I need to definitely try!!

  2. Just by looking at the photos, you'll know that these is comforting dish! Looks delicious & interesting idea adding crushed corn chips!! I've tried adding broccoli & cauliflower but never try butternut squash. I'll give a try & nachos sounds good! I love my mac n' cheese spicy! YUM!

  3. Ooh, that Mexican crema sounds delicious in this mac 'n cheese!

  4. mac 'n cheese combined with nachos sounds like the best idea ever

  5. I love adding chiles to mac and cheese, but I've never thought of taking even further in the direction of nachos. Sounds great! The crushed corn chips on top is a fantastic idea.

  6. Mac and cheese is one of my ultimate favorites as well and I definitely love how you've shaken it up with these mexican flavors!

  7. Mac and cheese is definitely a comforting food. I just love the kick you gave it with the chilies! You have a lovely blog with beautiful recipes!

  8. I think a kick is a great way to mix up mac n cheese!! Delicious.

  9. Oh Amy, this mac and cheese looks delicious, like the addition of oregano and paprika...
    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead :)

  10. I love this idea of adding a bit of spice and using mexican cheeses!

  11. This mac and cheese looks incredible. I like the kick of chilis and Mexican cheeses added.

  12. Mac and cheese is a comfort food for sure and this one with the spicy additions sounds great and I agree some chopped tomato and cilantro would make it even better.

  13. Yum, I love the sound of this take on one of my faves. Thanks for sharing!

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