Hatch Chile Mac & Cheese
We’re always so glad to see the Hatch chiles return. It feels a bit like a holiday, with the cheerful hustle and bustle of the chile roasts and all the special Hatch-inspired dishes rolling out of the Gelson’s Kitchen. We like to steal a bushel or two of the chiles for the test kitchen, too, and this mac and cheese came out of our experiments.
Remember the Hatch chile butter we used for our Hatch Chile Chocolate Chip Cookies? Well, here we’ve done something similar, creating a Hatch-and-garlic-infused brown butter. We whisk it together with cream, sharp cheddar, and Gouda to create a thick, creamy sauce that’s full of mild, smoky heat.
In our minds, orecchiette are the perfect vehicle for such a sauce. In Italian, “orechiette” means something along the lines of “little ears,” and it refers to the scooped shape of the pasta. They’re like little chewy pasta bowls that hold the perfect amount of cheese sauce — the pasta to sauce ratio is sublime.
Our tip: You could make this mac and cheese with any chile pepper you like, of course, but it wouldn’t be the same. There’s just something special about the Hatch chile’s savory pungency and subtle, smoky heat that makes this dish sing. We wish the season was longer, too!
1 lb orecchiette pasta or medium pasta shells
1 tsp olive oil
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups fresh Hatch chiles, diced small, divided
3 cups heavy cream
1 5-oz can evaporated milk
8 oz sharp cheddar, grated, plus more for topping
8 oz smoked Gouda, grated, plus more for topping
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat the broiler.
Prepare the pasta according to the instructions on the packaging, and then strain it, toss it with the olive oil, and set it aside.
In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, combine the unsalted butter, garlic, and 1 ½ cups of the Hatch chiles (and their seeds) and sauté them over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until the butter browns and the veggies develop some color.
Add the heavy cream and evaporated milk, stir the mixture together, and bring it to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the veggies from the heat and, using a mesh sieve, strain the mixture over a bowl, reserving the cream and discarding the chiles and garlic.
Add the cream back into the pot, and warm it over medium heat until it’s almost simmering.
Whisk in the cheddar in 4 batches, sprinkling it over the hot cream and whisking continually. Do not add too much cheese at one time: allowing the cheese to melt completely between additions will give you a smooth, creamy cheese sauce.
Whisk in the Gouda in 4 batches, sprinkling it over the hot cheese sauce and whisking continually.
Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper. It will be very creamy.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, cheese sauce, and remaining ½ cup of Hatch chiles.
Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish and top with shredded cheddar and Gouda.
Broil the mac and cheese on high for 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begins to bubble.
Allow the mac and cheese to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.
Calculate nutrition information for this recipe.