Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 1 large onion; medium dice
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic; minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 stick butter; 3 tbsp. and 5 tbsp. divided
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ cups half and half
  • 2 cups green chiles
  • 5 cups cheddar cheese; shredded
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking dish by lightly greasing. In a large stock pot, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss with a small amount of oil to prevent sticking. In a large straight sided sauté pan, sweat onions in oil until tender. Add garlic and other spices and cook until very fragrant. Add 3 tbsp. butter to pan and cook until foamy. Stir in flour to create a roux, stirring frequently, until sandy in texture and barely browned. Whisk a small amount of milk into the pan and continue whisking until all milk and half and half are incorporated. Bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened, stirring often to prevent scorching. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. Once the cheese melts, combine with green chiles and cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Pour evenly into prepared baking dish and top with remaining small pats of butter and then sprinkle on breadcrumbs. Tightly wrap baking dish in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until heated through and starting to bubble at the sides. Uncover dish, and return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes or until browned. A broiler on high heat can also be used to brown the topping.

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