Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
From Chef John Gladish
Gladish, who has just opened his second outpost of The Fat Dog, this time in North Hollywood (the first is in Hollywood), makes a Jalapeño Mac and Cheese in a cast iron pot that has just enough kick from the jalapeño, without it overpowering the cheesy goodness — made with pepper jack, Monterey Jack, and cheddar. Add optional crab and bacon (why wouldn't you?), and you've got a killer mac and cheese. "From the first time you stab your fork into this dish, scooping up equal parts macaroni and cheese, and the way the cheese "strings" its way into your mouth — well that's just sexy! Feel free to add other items to this if you like, poached lobster, crisp bacon, crab—each will add elevated flavor and a texture profile to your own version of this mac and cheese!" says Gladish.
- 8 oz cooked large elbow macaroni
- 4 oz jalapeño béchamel sauce (recipe follows)
- 1/4 cup shredded white cheddar
- 1/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
- 4 tbsp bread crumbs
- Kosher salt to taste
- 2 slices jalapeño
For the béchamel
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
Start out by making the jalapeño béchamel. In a shallow saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the jalapeño. Sweat this until the jalapeño begins to soften, then add the flour. This will tighten up, and will thicken your milk and cream. Stirring often, cook the "roux" for 15 minutes on low heat, being careful not to brown it. Next, slowly add in your milk and cream, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.
Once your sauce has thickened to a smooth and silky consistency, add in your cooked macaroni and bring up to temperature. Season with salt. It is very important to turn off the heat at this moment to ensure a fantastic finished product. If you add the cheese while the heat is on, you will lose you effect of what the cheese is supposed to do, and will not be able to make mac and cheese as sexy as it should be.
At this point, gently fold in your cheeses. Divide the macaroni into two ovenproof bowls or cast iron skillets, top each with an equal amount of bread crumbs and a slice of jalapeño. Place in a 450ºF oven for 12 minutes, or when the sides of the baking vessel you choose begin to bubble. Serve immediately.