Serves a Crowd

Smoky Mac 'N Cheese

January 20, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

I'm a relatively lazy cook, so am always looking for shortcuts without compromising flavor. This recipe came about when a group of friends decided to make "comfort food" for the Super Bowl last year. It seems most mac 'n cheese recipes call for using every pot and bowl in the kitchen. I managed to scale it down to a few. A nice, easy, addition to this dish is commercially roasted chicken. Shred the chicken and add it to the macaroni before pouring it into the prepared baking dish. To make chipotle puree, put a small can chipotle chiles in adobo in the food processor and puree to a paste. Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar topped with a thin film of flavorless oil. —epicureanodyssey

What You'll Need
  • 4 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (18 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 14-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles, preferably Muir Glen
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cook and drain the macaroni as directed on the box. Return to the saucepan, toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375º F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, milk, mustard, chipotle puree, smoked paprika and salt just before the boiling point. Reduce the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour the sauce over the macaroni. Stir in the tomatoes and onions. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and smoked paprika. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni mixture.
  5. Bake 25 minutes or until the edges are bubbly and the top is golden. Serve hot.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • epicureanodyssey
  • kbehroozi
  • lapadia
  • aliyaleekong
  • eatboutique

10 Reviews

June April 2, 2020
Loved this, and I'm not a huge mac n cheese fan. This is a whole new level of mac n cheese. I've kept frozen cubes of canned chipotles for years, but never thought to puree first. I made a ton of subs, mostly out of necessity, but none a major change to the essence of the recipe. A note, tho, on the baking dish: I halved the recipe, using 9 ounces of macaroni, and it didn't fit into a 9X13 baking dish. Well, barely. I was afraid of overflow, so l ladled some into an individual Corning Ware casserole. So good!
epicureanodyssey April 2, 2020
Hi really is one of my favorite versions. Doesn’t feel as heavy as many Mac n’ cheeses. Glad you enjoyed it.
epicureanodyssey November 28, 2014
Kbhroozi, I would say there may be be enough milk fat in the non-melting cheeses you are using. This is what I found from Fine Cooking: Smooth and flowing melters —

This category claims the largest number of cheeses. Some are viscous when melted, while others have little body. These cheeses are great for making toasted sandwiches; topping soups or vegetable tarts; stuffing into vegetables; adding richness to baked pasta dishes; and folding into biscuit, scone, and bread dough. They also blend smoothly into other dishes, such as polenta, mashed potatoes, risotto, and soufflés.

Monterey Jack
Blue cheeses(they melt around the mold)
Soft-ripened cheeses like Brie and Camembert (the rind will not melt)
kbehroozi November 15, 2014
Okay, one update. I always play around with different cheeses for this and have noticed that some melt better than others (smoked gouda has never melted that well for me but the cheddars usually do beautifully). This week I saw raw milk smoked cheddar at Trader Joe's and pounced on it. To my chagrin, the darned stuff just wouldn't integrate smoothly into the sauce, so I have these rubbery curds scattered throughout my pasta. Thought I'd put this out there as a word to the wise: great dish; avoid the TJ's smoked cheddar (maybe stick to non-smoked cheeses and increase the paprika/chipotle?)
epicureanodyssey January 4, 2011
Glad you enjoyed it, kbehroozi!! As you know, recipes are only a guideline and I always encourage folks to use their imagination in the kitchen.
kbehroozi January 4, 2011
This stuff is AMAZING. I copied the recipe almost word for word, except that I put less olive oil in the topping (maybe just 1 T) and used a mixture of caramelized onion cheddar, extra sharp cheddar, and smoked gouda (what I had in the fridge) for the cheese. I think you can be liberal w/ the spices, too, as long as you're not making this for people with weak stomachs. It's brilliant and yummy and everyone will ask you for the recipe.
lapadia October 1, 2010
Sounds and looks delicious, thanks for sharing it!
epicureanodyssey October 1, 2010
Easy and delicious is my motto. Try it and enjoy!
aliyaleekong September 27, 2010
this looks absolutely delicious!
eatboutique January 20, 2010
Yum. Yum.