Sometimes, I’m a genius. The think machine 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.
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 or pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 jalapeno peppers, diced or sliced into rounds (optionally seeded/deveined)
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup salsa (or pico de gallo)
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Optional: freshly chopped cilantro (I wish I’d had this on hand, but alas…)
Optional: hot sauce, to finish (Cholula, is my favorite, here)
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 — this is where most of their heat is, so only leave them in if you like things spicy. Add the butter, jalapeno, and onion to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the all-purpose flour, and stir for a minute or two, to make a roux. Add the corn and reduce the heat to low.
In a small bowl, combine the milk, sour cream, and salsa. Add to the pot slowly, and stir until thickened. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted in between handfuls. Once the cheese is thoroughly melted and smooth, stir in the pasta and crushed red pepper flakes. Optionally, add a handful of freshly chopped cilantro, and a dash of hot sauce, and serve.
(You’ll just have to imagine a beautiful drizzle of hot sauce, here… I’m only brilliant sometimes.)