I know what you are thinking
Mac N Cheese
MEXICAN?!?I Well I fully admit, its not
this is fusion dish
something I normally hesitate to do because Im not a big fan of Latino/Mexi/Fusion stuff. It always seems to fall a little short in terms of flavor and spicing. BUT as many of you know I am constantly on my mad pursuit of the worlds best Mac N Cheese recipe. And as I finished cooking Rick Bayless Salsas that Cook Cookbook, I figured I would make this recipe final farewell
despite the fact that it was a FUSION dish and it had several aspects that alarmed me
First, Im not a big fan of those grainy casserole Bachamel based style Mac and Cheese recipes. This recipe did not start with a traditional Bechamel, but instead with a Blond Roux, which is very similar. Still, the best Mac N Cheese Recipe for what Im looking for (Creamy, Super Flavorful Mac N Cheese) that Ive tried so far has been Altons Stove Top recipe. And Bayless also called for this recipe to be prepared on the Stove Top, so I hoped that it remained smooth despite the roux..
Second, and most alarming in my mind, this recipe required me to make a blond roux, melt some cheese down into it to make a cheese sauce, and THEN dump 2 cups of Jalepeno salsa into it!! It just seemed so WRONG. I could imagine my friends VERY southern Mother just SCREAM at me ruining a wonderful cheese sauce. I could imagine my mother SCREAMING at me for ruining a wonderful salsa. But I held my ground, I took a deep breath and dumped the Salsa in and began to stir furiously
Thankfully the sauce didnt break! In fact, it all came together wonderfully. It looked a little odd because the salsa added tiny chunks of jalapeno, onion, tomato into the cheese sauce. It suddenly occurred to me where Rick might have gotten this idea The sauce totally reminded me of those Rotel and Velveta dips you see during superbowl season. Perhaps this combo was not bad at all. I took a taste and basically I had the best rotel dip I ever had right there in the pan.
I used Sharp Cheddar, which totally shined through, and then, came the delicate burn from the Jalapenos. The cheese sauce had tempered the pure HEAT of the salsa, which was good thing because I dunno if others here have noticed it, but my mother and I have the Jalapenos weve been getting lately have been SUPER spicy. Its like our Mexican Supermarkets have started to carry a breed of Guatemalan insane asylum Jalapenos or something Even roasted, these little suckers are bombs So Ive been using one less pepper than the recipes have called for.
Anyway, since I was more than happy with my sauce, I was ready to pour it over my Macaroni and get a bit fusion-y myself. I mixed in the pasta and put the finished dish in a baking dish. Then, I took a pat of butter, melted it and tossed some panko into it. Once the panko was coated, I sprinkled in LOTS of Penzys Allepo Pepper into it. I spread this mixture on top of the Mac N Cheese and put into the Broiler for just a few seconds As I served myself up some I thought about what I had just prepared Mexican Jalapeno Salsa, American Sharp Cheddar Cheese Sauce, Italian Pasta, Turkish Pepper and Japanese Breadcrumbs Maybe this fusion stuff isnt so bad afterall! I knew Rick would be proud
But how did it all come together. Pretty darn good. The pasta tempered the Cheese sauce even more, making it less like a dip and more like a true pasta sauce. The burn by now was slight, but noticeable. Perhaps next time I will go absolutely crazy and add all the Jalepenos the salsa recipe calls for a real punch. The texture sadly wasnt as creamy as Altons recipe, but still very saucy. It reheated wonderfully too and the flavor of the spicy cheese sauce really penetrated the pasta.
And so, to be honest this final recipe had to be one of my favorite recipes of the book Luckily, I found it online for you! First, you should make the salsa (His on-line version of the recipe says to use any of his frontera bottled salsas, but I think fresh is best especially this one Roasted Jalapeño-Tomato salsa with fresh cilantro, I used the five cup version because I was finishing up another recipe you can use the 2 ½ cup version
This is the actual Macaroni and Cheese Recipe which says to use 2 cups of his prepared salsa use two cups of the FRESH salsa above instead! :)
I really enjoyed cooking from Salsas that Cook and am eager to take my next step into Mexico Cuisine by working through Mexico One Plate at a Time, I cant wait to tell you guys about the first time I cook down some pigs feet for Pozole SOOO looking forward to that! :)