Recipe 4: Chipotle Mac

Pics are added!  The issue was with my camera, but thanks to a friend pointing out common sense to me, I remembered that my computer has an SD port and I could obtain them that way.  Common sense is not exactly my strong suit, I’m sad to say.

Anyway, I have a not-so-great habit of getting cookbooks that seem really amazing, and then leaving them to gather dust on the shelf or on kitchen counters.  I’d like to think other food-lovers have that habit too because there are just so many awesome recipes out there in the world that no one person could try them all, but that is probably just me trying to assuage my own guilt.  I have lately been trying to increase my usage of the cookbooks in my possession, and what better excuse to whip them out than this challenge?

Among the cookbooks in my possession that has been neglected thus far is The New InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook, the tenth anniversary edition of a cookbook highlighting various (reported) aphrodisiacs.  Hubba-hubba.  If you can get past the anecdotes about spouses/lovers getting randy through food and the sometimes over-the-top double entendres, there are actually a lot of excellent-sounding recipes herein, regardless of your particular aims at seduction.

One of many sleepless nights I’ve had recently, I was thumbing through this book and was surprised to find a mac and cheese recipe here!  Filed under the chapter on chiles (alleged to recreate some of the physical responses of an intimate encounter), this recipe was described as having “Southwestern overtones on a classic.”  Now I confess, as much as I love me some mac and cheese, I can’t say that it ever struck me as a particularly erotic food – but let’s take another look at it:  Mac and cheese is one of the best-known American comfort foods, making us feel warm, cozy, and nostalgic.  It may not be as new and exciting as some other things out there, but is that a real good reason to turn it down?  So mac and cheese may not be as sexy as some of the other recipes on the book, it doesn’t make it bad.  Some recipes are about lust, but this one is all about love.

Besides, is there anything better at getting someone feeling a bit amorous than making them a good meal, regardless of what it is?  I doubt it.

Chipotle Mac (from The New InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge)

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. penne pasta (I used rice penne)
  • 1 Tablespoon adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotles in adobo), more if desired
  • 1 8oz. carton of crème fraîche
  • 1/2cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Preheat the broiler.  Add the penne and cook according to package directions until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, add the adobo sauce to the container of crème fraîche and stir together (not sure what container they used, but mine was too small to do this in the container; thankfully, I had the foresight to mix everything in a separate bowl so I wouldn’t make a mess).  Taste and add more adobo, if desired.  Drain the noodles and pour into a small casserole dish.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the crème fraîche mixture and stir until all the noodles are well coated.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the Parmesan has turned golden brown and is beginning to crisp (I didn’t let it burn like last time).  Serve immediately.  Yields 4 servings (or two very hungry adults).

Fresh out of the oven

Verdict: 3/5

This was a simple recipe to put together, and although I don’t keep crème fraîche in my fridge or adobo sauce, everything else is generally in my pantry.  My main issues with the recipe were my own, to be honest.  Let me explain:

As you may have noticed, I have a page where I talk about gluten-free pastas.  In my area, rice pasta is the easiest to obtain and it tends to come in more shapes than some other gluten-free pastas.  On the downside, it can become mushy quite easily.  Sadly, that happened with my batch of pasta (which, I’ll add, came in a 12oz package, which seems an odd size since most of the recipes I have seen call for either 8oz. or 1lb of pasta).  OK, that is a fault of my cooking, not the recipe.  Let me put the plea out there now for better gluten-free pastas!

Secondly, the quest for adobo sauce was unresolved in my case.  We have several great grocery stores with comprehensive international food sections, but I could not find any in our Mexican food sections, nor could Loverman.  Since it does come from chipotles, I wanted to try a chipotle hot sauce we recently received at a Yankee Trader event.  I normally don’t like hot sauce, but this offers a good smoky flavor, not just heat for heat’s sake.  So I confess, I had to fudge this a little bit.  Hey, I’m keeping it real with you guys.

In terms of texture, the pasta was the issue, which we’ve already established has everything to do with its cooking, not with the ingredient.  I am a wuss about anything spicy, but as I said, the chipotle offered more flavor than heat (though don’t be deceived, there was heat too); in fact, I think even a bit more chipotle flavor would have made for an even more complex flavor.  I loved the slightly chewy Parmesan top, though I personally would have liked more for the extra contrast of flavor and texture.  Loverman offered his usual suggestion to add chicken to improve it, and for once I agree: I think adding that extra element would really send this recipe over the top.  I would totally make this recipe again – though I might choose a different gluten-free pasta with less risk of turning into mush – so I’ll mark this as Due for a Do-Over as well.

I have been lucky enough to find several recipes to try, but I could always use more!  Please feel free to e-mail me at weeklymac*AT*yahoo*DOT*com with suggestions!

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