Chipotle macaroni and cheese with bacon DSC8775
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Chipotle macaroni and cheese with bacon

I’m roasting chiles and frying up bacon. What am I making, you might ask? What everybody wants to eat after being ill for a few days: chipotle macaroni and cheese. With bacon, of course.

OK, so this might seem a bit heavy for a re-entry into the land of the normal eating, but let me tell you—I’m hungry! And while the best thing I can say about not feeling well is that your skinny jeans are suddenly a viable option in your wardrobe, in the end I’d rather be well than ill. Though who wouldn’t? But let’s talk about chipotle macaroni and cheese, shall we?

My family, much like yours I reckon, has always made homemade macaroni and cheese. Sure, we’d have the box stuff on hand for after-school snacks or donations to the church food pantry, but in my house the real, homemade stuff was what was preferred.

Mom makes her macaroni and cheese in a variety of ways, but my favorite is a casserole of pasta suspended in a luscious sauce comprised of egg yolks, cheese and heavy cream. And just when you think it couldn’t be any more extravagant, she throws in diced, thick ham and tops it off with buttery breadcrumbs.

Yes, this is an excellent dish, but because of its richness I only advise serving it on special occasions. When it comes to a more everyday, simple macaroni and cheese, I turn to a method I learned in the New York Times.

This recipe requires little effort besides pouring cottage cheese blended with milk over dry pasta, tossing in some shredded cheese and baking it for an hour. No endless stirring a sauce or boiling a batch of pasta, which makes it a cinch to make. The Times version kept it plain, but I’ve made it my own by adding chipotle and garlic. And I top it with bacon and cotija, which adds contrast to the oozing cheese and soft pasta.

Chipotle macaroni and cheese with bacon | Homesick Texan

I realize that my macaroni and cheese may appear as decadent as my mom’s, but feel free to convince yourself that it’s a touch more healthy due to the cottage cheese and all. I do. But you know what? We’re nearing the end of a long, cold winter and sometimes you just need to pamper yourself. And for me, comfort comes clothed in chipotle chiles, cheese, and bacon.

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5 from 1 vote

Chipotle macaroni and cheese with bacon

Servings 8
Author Adapted by Lisa Fain from the New York Times

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry elbow pasta
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • Pinch cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 pieces cooked bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese (optional but delicious!)

Instructions

  • Heat the oven to 375° F.
  • Grease a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or a 9-inch square or round baking pan with the butter. Add the dry pasta.
  • In a blender, mix together the milk, cottage cheese, chipotle chile, mustard powder, garlic, cumin, salt and black pepper until it’s smooth. Pour mixture over dry pasta and stir until sauce is evenly distributed.
  • Combine the shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, then stir in two cups of the shredded cheese. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the foil and stir the macaroni and cheese a couple of times. Top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese, chopped bacon, and butter, and cook for another 25 minutes uncovered or until brown and bubbling.
  • Remove from oven, sprinkle with cotija and serve.

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75 Comments

  1. Made this tonight and it was wonderful and couldn't have been easier! Thanks for a great recipe! Any idea if it would freeze well?

  2. Lisa Fain says:

    Carys–You can freeze it.

  3. Rachel ratliff says:

    We found your website when we were searching for a new Mac and cheese recipe. I stumbled on your site and loved the picture, thought it looked delish!!! I showed my partner and we made it tonight (sat jun 2nd) , it's sensational!! I have also omitted to mention that we are in Australia so we have some constraints in regards to ingredients. Lucky for us we have this great shop here called USA foods who import popular us foods so I was able too get the chipotle chillis. Jack cheese is another matter so we used Colby and low fat tasty and low fat cottage. My partner reckons its the best Mac and cheese he's ever eaten!!! Thanks so much and I can't wait to get a copy of your book, looks wonderful !
    Cheers , Rachel Ratliff Melbourne Australia

  4. stephanie says:

    i made this a couple nights ago and it was good!

    since it's only the two of us and i wanted it as a side, i halved the recipe – though i the halves were somewhat heaping at times. i scooped a cup of macaroni, but added a little more so it covered the bottom of my mini casserole dish. so i splashed a little extra milk and heaped on a little more cottage cheese to compensate.

    i wasn't trying to cut chipotles in half so i still added a whole one – i tasted the milk mixture and man alive, those things are SPICY right out of the can, lol! i always throw three or so into crock pots of stuff which i never think of as spicy, just flavorful.

    anyway, after the first bake the macaroni was cooked but seemed pretty dry, so i drizzled over some more milk and stirred it in. i added the cheese and sprinkled some panko over the top for some extra crunch before adding the bacon and butter. when it was all baked the flavors were properly muddled and mellowed and it was really good.

    in my mind i imagined it a bit gooier, like velveeta, the cottage cheese making a thick sauce…but really it just blends down into milk. i think maybe some day i'll try making it on the stove and doing the whole roux thing if i want a saucy version.

    we had it with ranch chicken and a big green salad. boyperson who isn't really into carb sides and even less into pasta ate the whole giant square i gave him. we polished off about half the dish, but if we weren't starving that night i'd say the halved recipe would make six nice side sized portions.