LOCAL FLAVOR: Tracy Easley’s Poblano Mac and Cheese

Carla Core Brown

Have you ever found yourself wanting to eat something DIFFERENT but then you know in your heart, your family might not be game for a new taste-bud adventure? Such was the case with Tracy Easley when she wanted to prepare macaroni and cheese for her family Christmas dinner but she had also grown a little tired of serving the same recipe. She was inspired to “brave” new waters as she began her quest for a NEW macaroni and cheese recipe.

EUREKA!! JACK POT!! CHA-CHING!! WINNER-WINNER-CHICKEN DINNER!!

Tracy discovered a poblano macaroni and cheese recipe that, with a little tweaking, has become a FAMILY FAVORITE. Tracy shared she typically makes this side dish during the holidays but she also thinks any day can be extra special. Therefore, you don’t need to wait until Christmas to indulge.

TRACY’S POBLANO MACARONI AND CHEESE

Ingredients:

2 cans of chopped green chilies, 8 oz. elbow pasta, 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 4 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 and ½ cups whole milk, 1 teaspoon mustard powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and 4 cups of grated white cheddar cheese.

Directions:

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees. You will need a large 12” cast iron skillet.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook according to your package’s directions or approximately 5 minutes. You want the pasta to be cooked but not mushy. Drain the pasta. Grease the cast iron skillet and pour in the drained pasta. In the pot you cooked the pasta in, over low heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Whisk in the flour and cook until a light brown, toasty paste is formed, about one minute. Whisk in the milk and stir until it is thickened a bit but still fluid; about one to two minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, and chopped green chilies. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings as necessary. Slowly add half of the cheddar cheese, stir until melted and well combined into the sauce. Tip: If the sauce has cooled too much and the cheese won’t melt, return the pot to low heat. If the sauce gets too thick, like a custard, you can 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. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling. Now, how’s that for a little Local Flavor?!