TEX-MEX MAC-N-CHEESE

TEX-MEX MAC-N-CHEESE
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can shoepeg corn kernels
1 medium Vidalia onion, small dice
3 small sweet red pepper, seeded, small dice
1 can original ROTEL tomatoes with green chiles, drained WELL
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, cold
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
FRESH ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound mini rigatoni or pasta of choice, cooked al dente
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
OPTIONAL GARNISHES
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
Minced cilantro leaves
Pickled jalapenos, drained and minced

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Add the butter, corn, onions, red peppers, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt to a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, sauteing until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cumin, chile powder, cayenne pepper and flour, stirring frequently 3 to 4 minutes until roux forms.
  • Pour in the cold milk in a steady stream, stirring vigorously until the mixture is smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture starts to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack. Cook until the sauce is smooth and creamy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the scallions, tomatoes, peppers and rigatoni, mixing well to combine.
  • Pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with panko crumbs evenly over the top and cover with foil.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
  • Remove to a cooling rack and let rest for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with the Cotija cheese, jalapeno and cilantro.
  • Serve immediately.

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