We all have our kitchen staples, you know, things that, when you run out, you finally pick yourself up off the floor to go buy at the grocery store. I must always have eggs, milk or cream, butter, sugar, cheese, and flour. Even when there is embarrassingly little to behold, my staples & I can conjure fresh baked bread or biscuits, homemade pasta, or some elaborate cupcakes for a guest.
This recipe for homemade mac & cheese is one of the recipes that I can throw together quickly with whatever-is-left. Sometimes I don’t have bacon. So what! I’ll use Italian sausage. I don’t have a jalapeno? Whatever. I’ll add a little extra sriracha and some potatoes. I’m sure you could make shredded chicken work deliciously (unleash that creativity!) or you don’t really have to include a meat at all! It’s delicious & easy & everyone really loves it because it’s no doubt horrible for you 🙂
Spicy White Cheddar Mac & Cheese
1 1/2 c. dry noodles, cooked al dente (use penne, rotini, mini shells, elbows, or whatever else)
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. white cheddar, shredded (+ 2 T. for top)
1 T. sriracha sauce
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 onion, minced
1/3 c. corn
1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
1/4 c. panko
1 T. butter
2 slices bacon, cooked & chopped
reserved 2 T. white cheddar
To begin, boil salted hot water & cook your noodle of choice to al dente following directions on package. Strain in a colander and set aside until further assembly.
Meanwhile, we’ll begin the cheese sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour, mixing in with the melted butter to make a smooth paste, cooking for just a minute or two.
Pour in the milk. Add a dash of salt & pepper. Continue to heat until the milk simmers & starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes depending on your stove. Once it begins to thicken, remove from heat and add the cup of white cheddar & the sriracha sauce. Stir to combine until all the cheese is melted to form a thick sauce. Add more salt, pepper, or sriracha to taste.
In a small saute pan, heat a little butter or oil. Saute onions until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the jalapeno & the corn. Continue to saute for another 2-3 minutes. I like the veggies to have a little bit of crunch left to add a bit more texture to mac & cheese.
Separate the noodles into two oven safe bowls or ramekins. Split the veggie mixture and cheese sauce evenly between the two bowls. Fold to combine. Add one piece of chopped bacon to each bowl.