Bringing the Mac Back
It began with poblanos tossed on the stovetop for some early night roasting:
Once blackened, softened, and cooled, I chopped and double-checked my Cafe Pasquale's recipe: Things quickly got interesting:
Curly pasta cushioned loads o' butter, milk, cheddar, chiles, sharp mustard and a sprinkling of paprika. The crowning touch was shreds of prosciutto on top.
Baking magic ensued:
As you can see, this amazing beauty had me cocking my head sideways like a curious, hungry owl. This mac wasn't gooey like most, but stiffer, sharper and easily hacked into insouciant wedges of piquant goodness.
What a delightful way to bridge the gap between seasons!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
5 teaspoons sea salt
1 pound corkscrew or elbow pasta
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 poblano chiles
1 1/4 pound extra-sharp aged Cheddar cheese, grated
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
3 cups whole milk
2 pinches of paprika
Fill a large stockpot with water, add 3 teaspoons of the sea salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and boil for 8 minutes. Check for doneness and drain in colander.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch glass baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter, leaving any extra bits divided among the four corners of the pan.
Roast the poblano chiles over an open flame under a broiler, grill or stovetop until blackened all over, turning with tongs to ensure even blackening. Let the chiles "sweat" in a plastic bag for 10 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Stem and peel by scraping with a knife or rubbing in a terry-cloth towel, then scrape out the seeds and cut the chiles into thin strips. Set aside.
To assemble the casserole, place one-third of the the cooked pasta in the baking dish and sprinkle on one third of the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and one-third of the cheese. Smooth on 1 tablespoon of the mustard, then lay half of the chile strips over all. Scatter bits of one -third of the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter, then sprinkle on one-third of the black pepper. Repeat the process for the next two layers.
After the pasta, salt, cheese, mustard, butter and black pepper have been spread onto the third layer, pour the milk over the casserole, then evenly sprinkle the pinches of paprika over the top.
Bake for 1 hour, or until the top layer is crispy and brown. serve hot from the oven on warmed plates.
from "Cooking with Cafe Pasqual's: recipes from Santa Fe's renowned corner cafe", by Katharine Kagel