This week, I received a great recommendation from a friend of mine on our Mac & Cheese Chick Facebook page. He suggested that I try a recipe incorporating Hatch chiles into mac and cheese. I was intrigued, as I had never heard of a Hatch chile before this…and I enjoy cooking! How could it be that I made it through four decades without knowing what a Hatch chile was? Time to turn to Google!
Wikipedia was somewhat helpful, but their information was a bit dry: “Hatch chile refers to varieties of species of the genus Capsicum which are grown in in the Hatch Valley, an area stretching north and south along the Rio Grande river from Arrey, New Mexico in the north to Tonuco Mountain to the south of Hatch, New Mexico.” The Hatch Chile Festival website offered some additional insight, including the fact that one fresh medium-sized green chile pod has as much Vitamin C as six oranges. Good to know!
My friend pointed me in the direction of a great recipe from Portland, OR and after researching several Hatch chile mac and cheese recipes online, it was this recipe from which I drew inspiration for own variation of Hatch chile-infused mac and cheese. Which has me veering off on a tangent: Do you prefer your mac and cheese drier or creamier? I am a creamy mac and cheese girl. I also much prefer fudgy brownies over cakey ones, so apparently I have a thing for soupy-sloppy-messy textures. The Melt-Your-Face-Off Hatch Chile Mac and Cheese (aka MYFOHCM&C) recipe that was my inspiration used Alton Brown’s basic mac and cheese recipe as a base. While I love Alton, I don’t like the dry, eggy texture of his mac and cheese. So instead, I went with my gold standard and based my Hatch chile mac and cheese on the basic Beecher’s recipe.
When I cook, I tend to view recipes as a guideline or an outline. Not something to be followed to the letter (unless I am baking, that is a whole different animal) but something to use as a foundation on which to build. In that vein, I used the MYFOHCM&C recipe as an inspiration, completely tweaking the basic mac and cheese part of the recipe but overall taking the basic tenets of the recipe and going off in my own direction with them.
After I tracked down fresh Hatch chiles (love you, Amazon Fresh!) I was ready to go. Unfortunately I was out of Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, so I went with shredded Tillamook sharp cheddar instead. I had some organic Chiocciole pasta on hand, so I used that as well. The first step was fire-roasting the chiles. I chose to fire-roast them over the stove, but you could easily oven-roast them, too. I put the gas on medium-high and popped the chiles onto the burner.
Keep an eye on these and do not leave them unattended while they are roasting. After a few minutes, I turned the chiles over to evenly toast the other side.
Once sufficiently toasted, I removed the chiles to a cutting board and let them rest. Meanwhile, I prepped the rest of the ingredients, mincing the garlic and chopping the onion.
Like my onion goggles?
Come on, you know you want some…they come in several colors now!
Once the onion and garlic were dispatched, I removed the stems, seeds, and burnt skin from the Hatch chiles, then chopped them. After prepping the veggies, I browned the chorizo.
Once the chorizo was fully cooked and a beautiful brick-brown color, I placed it in a bowl and set it aside. The onions were added to the chorizo pan (to make sure the yummy brown bits were not wasted) and once they were on their way to translucent, the garlic and chopped chiles were added and sautéed for an additional minute. Once the veggies were cooked, the chorizo was added back to the pan and everything was mixed together.
Next up: the chiocciole. I cooked the pasta according to the package directions, then drained it and left it in the colander. Aren’t they cute?
While the pasta was cooking, I started on the mac and cheese sauce. Following my Beecher’s recipe, I melted the butter in a large pan and added flour. Whisking furiously, I cooked the roux for about two minutes. I slowly added in the milk, continuing to whisk, and cooked the mixture for about seven minutes (until it thickened). The pan was removed from the burner and the cheddar, hot sauce and spices were stirred in until the cheese was melted.
Once the cheese sauce was ready, the chorizo/veggie mixture was added to the cheese sauce pan and everything was mixed together until every last ingredient was happy.
After that, the pasta was added to the pan and everything was stirred until incorporated.
The end result?
Holy Hatchiliciousness, Batman. Four elbows up! The creamy, smoky goodness of the sauce combined with the subtle crunch of the chiles and produced the most delicious, throaty after burn to finish off each bite.
Here is my recipe.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 7 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups fat-free milk
- 1 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- 12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 16 ounces chiocciole
- 12 ounces chorizo, ground (casings removed if in link form)
- 1 white onion
- 4 large cloves garlic
- 2 fresh Hatch chiles
- Roast the Hatch chiles over an open-flame burner until somewhat charred on the outside. Keep a close eye on these while roasting and be very careful with the open flame. When the chiles are charred on both sides, set them on a cutting board to cool.
- While the chiles are cooling, chop the onion and mince the garlic. Once the chiles are cool to the touch, remove the stems, seeds and membranes. Gently peel away the burnt skin.
- In a large pan, brown the chorizo. Once the chorizo is fully cooked, remove from heat and place in a bowl; set aside.
- In the same large pan (the chorizo pan, with all the yummy browned bits still in the pan), add the onion and cook over medium heat until almost translucent. Add the garlic and Hatch chiles and cook for another minute. Remove pan from heat and add the chorizo back to the pan. Set aside.
- In a large pot, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, begin the cheese sauce. In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking briskly. Cook for two minutes then slowly add the milk, whisking continuously. Continue to cook until the sauce thickens, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the hot sauce, spices and cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted and incorporated.
- Add the chorizo/veggies to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and stir until all ingredients are happy.
- Serve and scarf down immediately!
Ready to dig in? Here, I saved the last bite for you.