Sometimes, culinary enlightenment strikes in the unlikeliest of places—even in the frozen food aisle! For me, the muse appeared during a family visit to New Mexico, where I encountered Trader Joe’s frozen Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese. Intrigued? Me too! But living nearly an hour away from the nearest Trader Joe’s forced my hand: Why not craft a version that surpasses store-bought convenience?
Why This Green Chili Mac and Cheese Recipe Stands Out
What makes this dish special? We’re talking about a symphony of melted Monterey Jack and mild cheddar cheese enveloping each elbow macaroni. But it’s the Hatch green chilis that steal the show, infusing the dish with a subtle, earthy warmth. Oh, and let’s not overlook the au gratin finale—a broiler-kissed cheese topping that takes you to the pinnacle of culinary ecstasy.
The Must-Have Ingredients
- Elbow Macaroni
- Unsalted Butter
- Canned Hatch Green Chilis (with juices)
- All-Purpose Flour
- Whole Milk
- Half and Half
- Yellow Onion (a wedge)
- Garlic Cloves
- Salt to taste
- Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
- Mild Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Cilantro, finely chopped
How to Make Chili Verde Mac and Cheese
- Preparation: Start by boiling the macaroni just shy of al dente, as per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Green Chili Roux: In a separate pan, melt butter and add the green chilis. Fold them into the melting butter so they become integral to the roux. Add flour, stirring constantly until you have a thick paste sans the raw flour taste.
- Silky Sauce: Gently whisk in whole milk and half-and-half to the roux, ensuring zero lumps. Aromatic magic happens now: toss in a wedge of onion and some smashed garlic cloves. After about 5-10 minutes on medium heat, the sauce should thickly coat the back of a spoon.
- Cheesy Goodness: Time to elevate! Discard the onion and garlic, then introduce the shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese. Stir until you’re swimming in creamy, molten bliss. A handful of chopped cilantro adds that unexpected zing!
- Assembly and Broil: Combine the cheese sauce and cooked macaroni, transfer it to an 8×8 casserole dish, and lavish the top with extra cheese. Under the broiler it goes, until a golden crust forms.
Pro Tips for Your Green Chile Mac n Cheese Masterpiece
- Want a more dominant cheese profile? Opt for sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese.
- Leftovers? Yes, they’ll be thicker when reheated but just as delicious.
- For the complete dining experience, pair this Hatch Green Chile Mac and Cheese with a crisp, garden-fresh salad.
Additional Recipe Notes
- Spice It Up: If you’re a fan of heat, consider using spicy Hatch green chilis or even adding a dash of cayenne pepper for that extra kick.
- Make It Ahead: Need to prep in advance? You can make the cheese sauce a day prior and store it in the fridge. When you’re ready, bring it back to a simmer before combining with the cooked pasta.
- Gluten-Free Variation: Opt for gluten-free elbow macaroni and a gluten-free thickening agent like cornstarch instead of flour for a coeliac-friendly version of this delectable green chili macaroni and cheese.
- Veggie Addition: Fancy some greens in your mac and cheese with green chilis? Spinach, kale, or even some finely chopped broccoli florets make great additions.
What Pairs Well With Mac and Cheese with Green Chilis
This sumptuous chili verde mac and cheese doesn’t need much else to shine, but if you’re planning a full dinner, here are some suggestions:
- Salad: A crisp Caesar or garden salad can add a refreshing contrast.
- Protein: This dish pairs wonderfully with grilled chicken, BBQ ribs, or even a spicy sausage to echo the green chili theme.
- Beverage: Go for a crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or, if you prefer beer, a light lager.
Storing Your Hatch Green Chili Mac and Cheese
Leftover green chile mac n cheese is equally scrumptious, although the sauce does thicken upon chilling. To reheat, add a splash of milk while warming it up on the stove or in the microwave. It’s best consumed within 3-4 days for peak freshness and flavor.
Your Go-To Comfort Food Awaits
So there it is—your roadmap to culinary nirvana. Whether it’s a casual weekday dinner, a potluck, or a holiday feast, this green chili mac and cheese recipe is bound to leave everyone smitten. It’s a slice of homey comfort amped up with Southwestern flair.
And there you have it, folks—a comfort dish with a twist, making your usual mac and cheese fare into something extraordinarily delicious. Time to don that apron and ignite a flavor explosion!
Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese
- 10 ounces of elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- One 4.5-ounce can of diced mild green chile juice included
- 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
- 1/2 cup of half-and-half
- 1/4 wedge of a yellow onion
- 2 large cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon of iodized salt
- 1 3/4 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese set aside 1/4 cup for later
- 1 3/4 cups of shredded mild cheddar cheese again, set aside 1/4 cup
- 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro
- Prep the Pasta: Boil the elbow macaroni according to package instructions but cut the cooking time short by 2-3 minutes for a firmer texture. Drain and set it back into the original pot.
- Green Chile Base: In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the diced green chile—juices and all—and let the flavors meld together for a minute on medium heat.
- Roux Time: Sprinkle flour over the butter and green chile mix. Stir it around to create a thick paste. This is your roux.
- Milk Magic: Slowly pour in whole milk and half-and-half while whisking to keep things smooth. Now’s a good time to add that teaspoon of iodized salt.
- Infuse the Flavors: Plop the onion wedge and smashed garlic into the sauce. Allow the sauce to thicken until it can coat the back of a spoon. This usually takes between 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the onion and garlic after.
- Cheesy Goodness: Add in 1 1/2 cups each of the Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses. Keep stirring until everything has melted into a creamy cheese sauce.
- Finishing Touch: Stir in that chopped cilantro for a burst of fresh flavor.
- Mix and Match: Pour this glorious sauce over your partially-cooked macaroni. Mix well to ensure each piece of pasta is well-coated.
- Bake and Broil: Transfer this mixture into an 8×8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese on top. Position your oven rack on the topmost layer, set the broiler on, and let that cheese bubble into a golden crust.
- For those who love an extra kick, feel free to swap out mild cheddar for sharp, or use a spicy green chile variety.
- You can make the sauce a day ahead and simply reheat it when you’re ready to assemble.