(Macaroni Con Queso - recipe in post)
Sometimes, I'm a genius. The brain wad starts firing, and before I even know what's hit me I've had a great idea - that's right, I'm not going to tone it down for you, I'm brilliant. Sometimes.
This, if I do say so myself, was one of those times. Macaroni Con Queso - or Mexican Macaroni - was the result of staring into the fridge and realizing I was pretty much food broke, except for cheese and a jalapeno pepper. Leave it to me to turn a sad situation into a tasty invention!
Here's what you'll need:
Macaroni Con Queso
1 lb. elbow macaroni
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 jalapeno peppers, diced or sliced into rounds (optionally seeded/deveined)
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup salsa (or pico de gallo)
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Optional: hot sauce, to finish (Cholula, if you can find it, works best here)
Optional: cilantro, to garnish (I wish I had this, the photos would be 100 times prettier!)
(Note: it's worth mentioning that a cheese sauce, like this one, made without a roux is not very stable and may result in a stringy/oily cheese that won't adhere to the noodles very well. While I haven't personally found this to be a problem, if you're afraid it might be an issue feel free to start the cheese sauce with the two TBSP butter AND a couple TBSP flour, to make a roux.)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al-dente, drain, and set aside.
While the water is coming to a boil, heat another pot or sauce pan over medium-high. Optionally remove the seeds and veins from the jalapeno to get rid of some of the heat. Add the butter, jalapeno, onion, and garlic to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes to soften. Stir in the corn and turn off the heat.
In a small bowl, combine the milk, sour cream, and salsa. Add to the pot, off the heat, while stirring. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted in between handfuls. If necessary, turn the heat back on to low.
Stir in the pasta and crushed red pepper flakes, and serve.
Finish with a dash of hot sauce for the full experience.
(You'll just have to imagine a beautiful drizzle of hot sauce, here... I'm only brilliant sometimes.)
So good. So smart. You're welcome.