With fall around the corner, thoughts turn to comfort dishes. Nothing like mac ‘n cheese for the quintessential comfort dish. With the addition of roasted poblano peppers, bacon and a crumb topping this dish will appeal to adults and kids alike. The poblanos add very mild heat to the dish. To kick it up a notch, use hotter peppers such as Italian or Hatch peppers. The mac’ n cheese is rich and creamy with layers of smokey flavors. Easy to make, it is a perfect marriage of creaminess and depth of flavor imparted from the smokey bacon and peppers. Using a larger corkscrew pasta rather than traditional macaroni really increases the ratio of creamy cheese sauce to pasta. In mac’n cheese, that is a very good thing! This mac’n cheese is fancy enough to serve to company, if you’re willing to share!
Roasted Poblano and Bacon Mac 'n Cheese
Adapted from Hostess at Heart See the original recipe here.
1 lb box of corscrew pasta such as cavatappi, cooked al dente, 1/2 c pasta water reserved
12 oz gruyère cheese, grated
1 quart heavy cream
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3/4 c diced roasted poblano peppers, skin, stems and seeds removed(I used 5 whole poblanos)
5 slices thick cut smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 c Panko bread crumbs
3 T butter
salt and pepper to taste
To roast the peppers, place them on a baking sheet in a 400 F oven and cook for 10 minutes, turning once. The skin should be blackened. Place in a paper bag to sweat. Once cooled, peel off the skin and discard the seeds and stems. I wore rubber gloves to work with the peppers.
In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the Panko bread crumbs and stir non stop until the crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
In another large skillet, bring the cream to a boil, and continue cooking until it is reduced and thickened slightly. Stir in 1/4 c pasta water. Add garlic, cheese, bacon and peppers. Stir in another 1/4 cup of the pasta water if sauce is too thick. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Add drained pasta and coat with sauce.
To serve, sprinkle each bowl with the toasted Panko bread crumbs.