Recipe 59: Mexican Macaroni and Cheese

I’ve been away for a while, and boy have I been craving mac.  Adventurous types, simple types – anything really.  But I’ve just been letting it slide.  Other meals are simpler, and it’s easy to fall into a routine.

Well, I saw this recipe, and I decided I needed to shake things up a bit.
Mexican Macaroni and Cheese (from Gimme Some Oven)
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. uncooked macaroni or other pasta I used corn shells
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, finely diced (optional) I left it out because I’m a wuss
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles (I should have chopped them; they were a little big from the can)
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 oz) can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (12-ounce) can 2% evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 8 oz. (about 2 cups) shredded Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack cheese (I used Monterrey)
  • 1 avocado, peeled pitted and diced
  • fresh cilantro, finely chopped (this is for garnish so I just used a pinch dried)
  • tortilla chip strips (or crushed tortillas)

Directions

Heat a large stockpot full of salted water until it comes to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente.

At about the time that you actually add the pasta to the boiling water, heat oil in a (separate) large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeno (if using) and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent.

While the onion is cooking, add the evaporated milk, egg, cumin, salt and pepper together in a small bowl or measuring cup, and whisk until combined. Set aside.

Back to the saute pan. Once the onion is cooked, stir in the garlic and chopped green chiles and saute for an additional minute until the garlic is fragrant. Then stir in the black beans and corn, and saute for an additional minute.

Once the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and add it to the veggie mixture in the saute pan. (Or you can do the reverse and add the veggies and pasta back to the stockpot and complete the recipe there.) Immediately stir in the evaporated milk mixture, and stir until the mixture is combined. Cook for 1 more minute until the milk mixture is heated through. Then add the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

Serve immediately topped with diced avocado and chopped cilantro and tortilla chips.

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Verdict: 3.5/5
The only reason this doesn’t score higher for me is because even with just the green chiles, this was a bit too spicy for my admittedly wimpy palate.  I will say though that the heat isn’t just there for the sake of heat; there is real flavor here, and it rocks.  The corn and beans make this extra filling, and the avocado added to the creaminess.  Wait to add the tortillas on each person’s helping individually though: I didn’t and as a result I had limp tortilla bits instead of crunchy goodness.  When I made this, I was super-hungry and assumed I’d need seconds, but one bowl was more than enough for me.
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