Monday, February 20, 2012

Chipotle Sweet Potato Mac'n'Cheese

Do you ever see a recipe in a magazine or on the internets and almost pass it by, and then read the ingredient list and realize, well, I have most of these ingredients and it doesn't involve defrosting any meat from the freezer so that means we could actually eat it tonight so I guess I'll try it even though probably no one will like it?

Have you ever then actually made that recipe, taken a bite, and literally exclaimed, "Holycowthatissogood!" as all one word?

And then the DDH tells you, "I think this is the first sweet potato dish you've made that I've actually liked."

This, my friends, is that recipe.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Mac'n'Cheese
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe in Cooking Light March 2012
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Cover a rimmed cooking sheet with foil or a silicone mat. Wash two or three sweet potatoes of a reasonable size, prick them all over with a fork, and set on your cookie sheet.

Bake for one hour or until soft.

They exploded a little.
A little before the sweet potatoes are done, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook 8 ounces pasta according to package directions. Obviously if you are a literalist, this should be macaroni; I used rotini. It would work with penne or maybe even the bowtie pastas--any short pasta, really.

Drain and set aside.

The curlicues hold on the sauce and help everything meld together.
Let the sweet potatoes cool enough so you don't burn your fingerprints off when you peel them. Peel (the skins should come right off), put in a bowl, and mash.

I love this potato masher, by the way.
Add 1 cup milk (maybe a little less if you have small potatoes), 2 Tbs. chopped chipotle peppers (that's roughly two peppers in adobo sauce; wear gloves to chop them. Or you can buy a can of chopped ones. Either way, add more for more spice and less for less), 3/8 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 3 ounces shredded yellow cheese. I will tell you that the DDH thinks there should have been about twice as much cheese. We use Colby-Jack because that's what I buy in two pound blocks from Sam's Club, but just Colby or just Jack or a mild cheddar would work, too.

Looks gross, tastes awesome.
Mash everything together until it's a consistency you like.

The DDH likes smooth; I prefer lumpy. This is a compromise.
You could use a blender or immersion blender to get it really silky.
 Stir in your cooked pasta.

So orange.
Three routes you could take from here, depending on whether you want this to be vegetarian, vegetarian optional, or just meaty.
  1. Obviously, you can leave out the meat.
  2. You could cook either some chipotle or other sausage or bacon in a separate pan until it's nice and crispy.
  3. You could cook your meat in an ovenproof skillet, remove from the pan, and set aside.
We did option 2 because The Vegetarian Roommate wanted to try it; normally I would do option 3. But I did cook the bacon in the pot the pasta boiled in, so I still didn't need to wash an extra pan.

I don't really recommend cooking bacon in a small saucepan, though.
Put your pasta-sweet potato mixture in an ovenproof dish (either the one you cooked the meat in or a different one). Top it with your bacon or sausage, if using, and broil on high for 2-3 minutes until it gets a bit of a crispy top. The DDH suggests topping it with more cheese and then broiling, but we were out of cheese.

It doesn't look that different, but the top was crispier.
Top each serving with chopped green onions (and meat, if you're doing option 2) and prepare to be amazed.

Vegetarian serving. Blurry, but it really is this bright orange color.
The smoky chipotle flavor melds so perfectly with the earthy, sweet (ha) sweet potato, and there's just enough cheese...oh man, it's so good.

Omnivore version.
Like I said, even the DDH liked it. ;-)

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