Chipotle Peppers Are The Secret For Mac And Cheese With A Smoky Kick

Chipotle pepper mac and cheese in a white bowl
Chipotle pepper mac and cheese in a white bowl - Static Media / Shutterstock / Getty

Chipotle pepper is a one-ingredient addition that transforms a familiar favorite into the Weeknight Dinner Hall of Fame. Elevate your mild, comforting, go-to mac and cheese recipe with a spicy, smoky kick.

If a drizzle of sriracha is typically as far as you venture into the chili pepper realm, don't be intimidated. Chipotle peppers are jalapeno peppers that have been smoked and dried. They're technically a variety of chili peppers with a medium-high intensity (roughly around 5,250 Scoville heat units) and can be identified by their dark purple hue. Whole dried chipotle peppers can be purchased from a variety of online retailers or specialty Mexican grocery shops. More widely available are jarred chipotle pepper paste and dried, ground chipotle powder seasoning — both of which can be found in many major grocery stores (pro tip: the jarred chipotle chili paste by Gran Luchito works especially well for a mac and cheese upgrade).

To incorporate whole, dried chipotle peppers into your mac and cheese, pulverize them in a food processor or chop them into a tiny mince with a sharpened chef's knife. Or, you could add a little olive oil or toasted sesame oil to that food processor and turn those peppers into a paste, which would stir effortlessly into your creamy mac and cheese sauce. Alternatively, if you're using jarred chipotle paste or dried ground seasoning, you could stir the ingredient into your mac and cheese sauce, or add it at the end to customize each bowlful.

Read more: 44 Types Of Pasta And When You Should Be Using Them

It's Getting Hot In Here (It Should Be, Anyway)

Dried whole chipotle peppers
Dried whole chipotle peppers - Micaela Fiorellini/Shutterstock

If you're cooking with dried whole chipotle peppers, be sure to deseed them before adding 'em to your mac, and always wear gloves to prevent chili burn. Toasting dried whole chipotle peppers is also a great way to enhance the roasted, smoky flavor of the ingredient and add even more savory depth to your creamy mac and cheese.

Opt for a cheese that melts well and complements the fiery, smoky, earthy flavor of the chipotle. Sharp white cheddar, Smoked gouda, nutty fontina, salty Gruyère, buttery Havarti, or funky brie would all make a great fit. Or, to let the chipotle flavor shine, opt for a milder cheese like Monterey Jack or Colby. On the note of customization, you could use classic elbow macaroni, or experiment with different pasta shapes like farfalle, orecchiette, rotini, or ditalini.

Use chipotle peppers to upgrade this classic simple mac and cheese with crunchy toasted breadcrumb topping. Or, add shredded cheese to the luscious sauce in our roasted tomato and chipotle cream pasta for an elevated mac fit for your next dinner party (don't forget the fresh cilantro to garnish). Want to up the flavorful ante even further? Add a splash of bourbon, toss in some caramelized onions, drizzle with hot honey, or bulk it up with slices of sweet-savory chicken apple sausage. To feed a crowd, you could stir your chipotle peppers into a batch of baked mac and cheese casserole (hello, tailgate stardom!).

Read the original article on Tasting Table