Baked Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Many think of homemade mac and cheese as comfort food. I admit that I am not one of them. Spicy, nood-ly, soupy, fishy are some of the words that I'd use to describe foods I'd consider comforting. So when the boys were inspired to make baked mac and cheese with me, I decided to make one batch with leftover ham and freshly roasted green chile. I was converted. Green chile makes anything comfort food. I know most of you do not live in states where the aroma of roasted green chile lingers in the air this time of year. Check the frozen aisles of your grocery store for Bueno Roasted Hatch Green Chile, and if all else fails, buy the stuff in the can buy a plane ticket and come visit for the Balloon Fiesta coming next week!

Baked Green Chile Mac and Cheese Adapted from recipe by Alton Brown

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I used penne) 3 tablespoons butter 3 tablespoons flour 1 tablespoon powdered mustard 3 cups milk 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon paprika 1 large egg, beaten 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded 1/2 cup chopped roasted green chile (drained, if canned or frozen) 1 cup chopped ham (optional) 1 teaspoon salt Fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons butter 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Temper in the egg by adding some of the sauce mixture to the egg, the returning egg and sauce mixture back to pot. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Stir in green chile and ham. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.

Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

I've not tried this yet, but Alton Brown suggests frying leftover Macaroni and Cheese!