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Poblano Macaroni and Cheese {The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight & Cook-Off}

I am dismissing any of my previous Macaroni and Cheese's as mere crushes.  Sure, we've had some fun. Ever since my youngest sister was "old enough" to start bringing her own contributions to our annual Thanksgiving feast, she's brought her version with her.  It's rich and creamy and I crush on it for the whole day...and several days afterwards.  Plus, I start looking forward to it about a month before turkey day each year.  There was also a period in time when I was seduced by the rich, creamy, so-good-it's-gotta-be-fattening version that is not only scented with rosemary and the rich tang of goat cheese, but also studded with tender bites of chicken.  I blame a handsome, bald, tattooed chef with an Ohio accent and a sexy laugh for that crush.  And we all know that bacon is to blame for my enduring crush on this version.  Smoky, delicious, brainwashing bacon.  While I will always cherish these past crushes (as I now recognize them to be) and probably pull out their pictures and reminisce about them from time to time...and heck, even visit with them (you know, for old-times sake), I've found a new love.  A true love.  A love will endure through thick and thin.   Who would've guessed that a Homesick Texan would have been the one to introduce me to the "real thing"?  Even the hubs, who takes a pass on mac and cheese normally went back for thirds! Unfortunately for him, he had to be satisfied with seconds, because the dish was empty. {chuckle}  I want to eat this daily.  Is there really anything so wrong with that?  While the earthy, roasted poblano chiles and gooey cheese combined to start me swooning, I think it was the warm, heady scent of cumin that pushed me over the edge.  I ♥ Poblano Macaroni and Cheese.  I want to marry it.  I don't think Mexi would mind...
Poblano Macaroni and Cheese 
adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook
serves 8 (<----uuuummmmm, no. So good, you'll want huge helpings. I say it serves ~4)

2 poblano chiles
8 oz. elbow pasta
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1½ c. whole milk
1 tsp. mustard powder
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. lime zest
½ c. chopped cilantro
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
12 oz. grated white cheddar cheese (I used half white, half yellow)

for serving:
Cotija cheese (or goat cheese...not the same thing, but I had it and wanted to use it and it rocked)
Tortilla chips, crushed

Roast the poblanos under the broiler until blackened, ~5 minutes per side.  Remove and cover them to let them steam, for ~20 minutes.  I like to roast them right on top of a large sheet of foil, then just bring the foil up and around the chiles.  Peel/rub off the skins and remove the stems and seeds, then dice into ~1" chunks.

Bring a large salted pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until just al dente.  Preheat your oven to 375° F.  Grease a large baking dish or cast-iron skillet (personally, I'd choose an 8"-10") and set aside.

In a pot set over low heat, melt the butter.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the flour and cook until light brown and toasty smelling, ~1 minute more.  Whisk in the milk and stir until thickened, 1-2 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and stir in mustard powder, cayenne, cumin, lime zest, cilantro, and prepared poblanos.  Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, as needed.

Stir half of the cheese into the sauce until melted.  Throw in the pasta and stir until coated.  Pour into prepared dish.  Top with remaining cheddar cheese and bake, uncovered, until cheese is bubbly and slightly golden.  Sprinkle with Cotija (or goat cheese) right when it comes out of the oven (to help it melt in a bit) and crushed tortilla chips (you could also sprinkle these on top before baking, if you wish), if you wish.
*This post is part of The Homesick Texan Cookbook Spotlight and Cook-Off sponsored by Hyperion and hosted (right here!) at girlichef*

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(watch for the sopapillas in a few days...)

I am also sharing this post with:
Mangoes and Chutney: Mac and Cheese Quest
Presto Pasta Nights hosted at Pictures of All My Princesses
prestopastanights cookbooksundays weekend cooking recipe sharing monday at jam hands my meatless mondays