I’m almost certainly not the first person to think of this. But seriously -- jalapeno popper mac and cheese? It just doesn’t get any better than that. I think I gained about twelve pounds just looking at this macaroni and cheese, but it was so worth it. This is so amazingly delicious! Cooking the jalapeno peppers right in the roux really distributes their flavor through the entire cheese sauce, so you get the spice in every single bite. Add some bacon for saltiness, some cream cheese for extra creaminess, and a topping of buttery crackers for a crispy element, and it's pretty much comfort food heaven. I really can’t wait to make this again!
Jalapeno Popper Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound bacon
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1/4 cup butter
2 large jalapenos or 4 small jalapenos, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups milk
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
5 ounces cream cheese
1 cup bread crumbs or crushed Ritz crackers
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook bacon to desired crispness; drain on paper towels, crumble, and set aside.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
4. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add jalapenos and cook for 3 minutes, or until they’re slightly softened. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add milk; heat to boiling and stir constantly for 1 minute or until thickened. Stir in cheddar cheese and cream cheese until melted and smooth.
5. Add cheese sauce and bacon to pasta and mix gently. Transfer to a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
6. Combine 3 tablespoons melted butter with the bread crumbs or crackers; sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until topping is slightly browned.