Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jalapeno Popper Orzo Mac-n-Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is probably in just about everyone's Top Five favorite comfort foods.  And there are so many wonderful variations.  This is one I hadn't thought of and I don't know why.  I love the flavor of jalapenos and by cooking them (sans seeds) it lessens the heat.

This original recipe does call for using peppers with seeds, but depending on your sensitivity, you can almost completely eliminate the heat by omitting the seeds and/or using few peppers.  

And the orzo is a nice change from a elbow/corkscrew/penne-type of pasta.  It holds the creamy sauce quite well.  The directions are to make and serve this all at once, but I made it earlier in the day and then baked it (350F about 30 minutes) to heat it through and until the bread crumbs were golden.


Kosher salt
1 pound orzo
1 stick (8 Tbsp) butter
6 jalapeno peppers, 4 seeded and finely chopped, 2 sliced with seeds
4 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped
3 Tbsp AP flour
2 1/2 cups milk
Black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 Fresno chili peppers, sliced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water and cook the orzo until al dente, about 6 minutes, drain.

Meanwhile, heat 4 Tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped jalapenos, the garlic, and onions and cook until the jalapenos and onions are soft, 5 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the milk and stir until the sauce thickens.  Season with S&P.  Add the cheddar and cream cheese and stir until melted.

Combine the orzo with the sauce and transfer to a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp butter and toss with the panko to coat.  Sprinkle over the casserole and top with the sliced jalapenos and Fresno chilies.

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