Yep - bacon, cheese and chipotle chilies with macaroni.
I picked up a tin of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce at the Cambridge Cheese Shop at the weekend. These are hard to find in shops in the uk, you can buy them online only (try mexgrocer.co.uk). A lot of mexican recipes call for a chipotle chili to be added to the mix, things like a good chili, gumbo, enchilada sauce. I LOVE mexican food and so I am so pleased to be able to find these locally.
Obviously now I was in possession of this key ingredient my mind went blank on what to use them for. Then this recipe on the Homesick Texan blog magically appeared on my reader one rainy day!
I love mac and cheese, growing up in a household where we had gujarati food every day and anything that wasn't spicy was given a small amount of it anyway, mac and cheese was something I had never had until I started cooking myself.
This recipe really works to give an extra kick to the mac and cheese (reminscent of my mum's turmeric laced lasagne, but in a good way!). Although it does use a really really large amount of cheese - a 2:1 ratio of cheese to pasta - it produces a lighter sauce than your traditional flour, milk and cheese sauce.
A few notes about my recipe - I forgot the cottage cheese. I knew it would give a thicker texture and I didn't have anything like mascarpone or thick cream to replace it with, so I just used less milk and replaced the cottage cheese with more cheddar. And one of the things the original NY Times recipe says is - if in doubt - use more cheese. If your sauce seems thin, add more cheese!
Also try and find a really mature cheddar, this will really make a difference to your sauce.
If you can't get hold of chipotles in adobo you can add a dash of chili powder or maybe even some tabasco sauce to your sauce. You won't get the same smokey depth of flavour like chipotles give but you'll get that extra kick!
Chipotle & Bacon Macaroni Cheese
serves 2 greedy people
adapted from Homesick Texan and NY Times
400g (2 cups) dried macaroni pasta
3/4 pint (1 1/2 cups) of semi skimmed or whole milk
now get ready... 800g (4 cups) grated extra mature cheddar cheese
1 chipotle chili plus a couple of teaspoons of adobo sauce from the tin
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 rashers of back bacon or 4 of streaky or pancetta, cut into chunks.
Preheat your oven to 375f / 190c / gas mark 5.
Pop the dish you are using in the oven to heat up, try to use a very deep ceramic dish if you can.
Blend together your milk, cheese, the chipotle chili and sauce and cumin. Do this in a food processor or a stick blender in a bowl. Season with black pepper.
Remove your dish from the oven and add your pasta (no need to cook it before, promise!) and then stir in the blended sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Then remove the foil, add the bacon on top and bake for a further 20-30 minutes until the pasta is cooked. You can add cheese to the top here if you like, but if you don't the pasta will still bake up with a nice crust.
I don't normally do drink/wine recommendation (mainly because I don't know much about wine!) but I had this with a glass of apple and rhubarb juice which was a nice bit of sharpness to go with the cheese.