The first summer I spent in Texas, I remember eating spaghetti at the home of my boss and his wife. I must have made a surprised face when I took a bite, because they both laughed. “It’s spicy,” I said.
“Yup,” they said.
“But…it’s spaghetti sauce.”
“Welcome to Texas.”
Indeed. My palate has changed since I moved from Virginia to the Bayou City. Instead of being surprised by added spice to dishes, I began adding it myself. Mostly in the form of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Tony’s covers both spicy and salty and can really give a dish some zing. I put it on pizza, pasta, and even popcorn. (Let me warn you, if you use Tony’s on popcorn, be prepared to sneeze.)
Since I’m almost always adding Tony’s to mac and cheese anyway, I decided to make a full dish that rounded out my seasoning. That’s right—I built this dish around a seasoning. Tony’s is THAT inspiring. (This is not a sponsored post, either. I really just like Tony’s!) I thought a little jalapeño might do just the trick, and it did. This dish is not for the faint of taste, but you can most certainly use the basic mac and cheese recipe and omit the hot portions. Or use a little less, gradually building up to full-strength. But give it a try at least once. Because you never know—your palate might be begging for a Texas-style update.
- 6 T butter
- 6 T flour
- 2 cups milk, plus about 1/2 cup more (optional)
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- 1/4-1/2 cup diced jalapenos (I used the sliced, jarred kind)
- 1 tsp Tony Chachere's, plus more to taste
- 1 box elbow macaroni
- Fix pasta according to directions.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and heat until bubbly. Add the milk and continue to whisk as sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir with a wooden spoon until fully melted.
- When the pasta has finished, drain and add directly into the cheese mixture along with the diced jalapenos and Tony's. At this point, I added about 1/2 cup milk until it was the consistency I wanted. This may vary!
- For presentation (and a kick), top with more finely diced jalapenos and a shake of Tony's.
Do you have any twists on a classic recipe? Or a mac and cheese recipe you love? Share links in the comments!