Mac and Queso Fundido
This recipe, adapted from “Chicano Eats: Recipes From My Mexican-American Kitchen” (Harper Design, 2020) by Esteban Castillo, is less dip than it is pasta — a smoky, spicy version of the best boxed macaroni and cheese you’ve ever had. Make a very simple roux, to which you add smoked paprika and three types of grated cheese (mozzarella, Mexican cheese blend and Parmesan). Stir in the noodles until they are glossy and coated. You could stop there or take it over the top by finishing the dish with crumbled, cooked chorizo and sautéed mushrooms.
- Serves: 4 persons
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
- 5ounces mushrooms, preferably cremini, sliced (about 2 cups)
- ¼pound fresh chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casing removed (optional)
- 8ounces cavatappi (corkscrew) or other small pasta
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4garlic cloves, minced
- 3tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1cup chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
- ¾cup milk
- ¼cup heavy cream
- 1teaspoon onion powder
- ½teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½cups shredded mozzarella
- 1cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
- ½cup shredded Parmesan
- Sliced scallions, for serving
Step 1Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat for the pasta.
Step 2As the water comes to a boil, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium. Add the mushrooms and cook until crispy and golden brown all over, about 5 minutes on each side. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet.
Step 3Line another plate with paper towels. Add the chorizo to the skillet and cook, crumbling the meat with a spatula, until the fat has rendered and the chorizo is crispy, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set aside on the paper towels to drain.
Step 4Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and return the pasta back to the pot.
Step 5Meanwhile, in the skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, then slowly whisk in the stock. Once the stock is incorporated, whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Whisk in onion powder and smoked paprika, then cook until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the mozzarella, Mexican cheese blend and Parmesan until completely melted. Adjust the salt to taste.
Step 6Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to evenly coat the pasta in the sauce. Leave in the pot or transfer to a serving dish and top with the mushrooms and chorizo, if using. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.