I have no idea why, but for the past several days, I have listening to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” a lot more than is strictly necessary, which of course has resulted in having said song in my head incessantly. Not even the original version by the Charlie Daniels Band, but a cover by Steve Ouimette (whose last name I can’t help but think of as Oubliette), which is an awesome version of the song, but also kind of funny when you think about it because although it doesn’t change any of the lyrics, it turns a song all about fiddling into a song all about rock guitars.
With this song in my head apropos of nothing, it seemed like a good time to try out a spicy recipe. This is actually a recipe I’ve been meaning to try out for ages. In fact, this was the very first recipe that was suggested to me when I originally put out the call for recipes for mac and cheese recipes to try out. I am always a bit hesitant with spicy recipes since I am so often a wuss when it comes to too much heat, which may explain some of my reticence in giving this a whirl. The individual ingredients were not overwhelming, but I suppose I was concerned that combined it would culminate in a fire in my mouth, and that is not cool.
Oh jeez, I made a pun just now. I swear that was not intentional. Please forgive me.
This one comes from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Now, I confess I don’t know a whole lot about the Pioneer Woman, but from what I have read and seen of her, I surmise she is sort of like a younger, hipper Paula Deen. While Paula seems to go back and forth between “This just is the food we eat down South!” and “no, we don’t eat that all the time; it’s all in moderation!” it seems Ree says “Yeah, I make this food. I’m also feeding ranchers and cowboys, and they work it all off. This is our life.” I can respect that. But it is true that moderation is key with mac and cheese. *cough*
Spicy Macaroni and Cheese (from The Pioneer Woman)
- 4 cups cooked macaroni or cavatappi (this is 8oz. dry. I used corn macaroni)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 finely diced red onion (I used 1/2)
- Equal amount diced red bell pepper
- 1 finely diced jalapeno (Part of the recipe says “You can leave this out if you’re a total wuss,” so I did; comments on this below)
- 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
- 1 cup frozen corn (I didn’t thaw mine out beforehand)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 cup cream (I used half and half because that’s what we keep in the house)
- 1 generous cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
Boil pasta until al dente. In a large skillet, add olive oil and saute garlic and vegetables over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add in canned chilies and stir around, then turn off heat. Drain pasta and add it to skillet. Pour on cream, add cheese (there’s little enough cheese that you really don’t need to add it gradually; just dump it all in), then add salt and pepper to taste and stir gently. At the end, add 2 tablespoons butter and stir again. Check seasonings and serve.
EDIT: When I originally posted this recipe, I was unable to post a picture of the mac because my camera cable had wandered away in search of adventure (and my camera has been sporadically not speaking with my computer because, you know, why not), so I put up a picture of my dog in the meantime in hopes of pleasing my readers with how cute she is. There is now a picture of the mac here, and I have moved the picture of my dog to the bottom of this post… Because she is still very cute.
For a spicy mac and cheese, this mac was not especially spicy. As I mentioned before, reading the ingredients, I expected them to come together in some sort of magical and somewhat scary spice-explosion in my mouth. I left out the jalapeno for that reason. I regret that I did, actually. There was a little bite from the red onion, but not much. More than anything, truth be told, I got sweetness from the corn and even a bit from the red pepper. I’m not sure if I did something wrong or what. Maybe I should have thawed the corn out first? Maybe that diluted the spiciness? Loverman wasn’t too impressed with it either; we had leftovers tonight and the flavors were dulled even more, and he added hot sauce to his. All this having been said, I would make it again – it wasn’t bad, per se, just blander than expected.