Whether you need a recipe for Labor Day, upcoming football season, or just some good old comfort food, this Baked Jalapeño Macaroni and Cheese is calling your name. You can amp up or mellow out the spice as much as you'd like, but I definitely reccomend going all in here. Make sure to let the Mac and Cheese rest up a bit before serving and you'll get the most velvety, creamy bite.
- 16 ounces dried pasta, such as cavatappi
- 1/ 2 cup salted butter, plus more for the baking dish
- 1/ 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/ 2 cups whole milk
- 2 1/ 2 cups half and half
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
- 1 large jalapeño, diced
- 4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
- 2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded and divided
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/ 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/ 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped plus more for garnish
- Scallions, chopped for garnish
Preheat oven to 375F degrees and grease a 9x13” baking dish with butter.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 2-3 minutes less than the package instructions. Once drained, toss pasta with butter or olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot. Whisk in flour to make a thick roux. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly add whole milk, and whisk until smooth. Add half and half and continue whisking until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and mix in spices, 2 garlic cloves, and jalapeño.
Toss cheddar and gruyere cheeses together in a large bowl to combine. Stir 2 cups of the cheese into milk mixture until melted. Repeat with 2 more cups until you have a smooth, velvety consistency. Remove from heat and mix in cooked pasta until fully incorporated.
Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add remaining 2 garlic cloves and Panko bread crumbs. Toast bread crumbs until golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be sure to watch them, they can burn quickly! Remove from heat and stir in fresh parsley.
Add half of the cheesy pasta to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half the remaining shredded cheese. Repeat with the remaining pasta and shredded cheese. Top with panko mixture and bake until cheese is melted and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
Let rest for 10-15 minutes. Garnish with scallions, fresh parsley and serve.