PEPPER JACK AND BLACK BEAN MAC & CHEESE – This is mac & cheese all dressed up with pepper jack and sharp cheddar cheese, black beans and a crunchy tortilla chip topping. A one-dish meal that will have everyone coming back for seconds.
Because this is baked the cheese sauce is made stove-top with butter and flour, the roux, for thickening, plus a little mustard, milk and a whole lot of cheese. Pepper Jack doesn’t melt smoothly so I like to mix it with cheddar to help it out.
The elbow mac has to be boiled first to al dente, firm to the tooth, because it’s going to cook again in the oven. Mushy pasta is out. Perfectly cooked pasta is in.
Mac & cheese definitely benefits from a spicy tex-mex twist and the addition of a little protein to turn it into a main dish worthy of your attention.
Bubbly and hot with chewy pasta and soft black beans, crusty on top with cheese oozing every which way.
That’s what the best mac & cheese is made of.
- 12 ounces elbows
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper
- 14 ounce can black beans, drained, rinsed well & patted dry
- a couple handfuls white corn tortilla chips, crushed
- a pat of butter, cut into small pieces
- Cook the elbows to al dente in plenty of salted water according to package directions. Drain, add them back to the pan off the heat and toss with a tablespoon of butter to prevent sticking.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch round casserole with high sides or a 9 x 13.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and cook 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and the mustard. Turn the heat up and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, 4 - 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low and add both cheeses except for ½ cup for the top, stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
- Stir the black beans into the pasta. If the pan is big enough add the pasta to the cheese sauce or vice versa, mix gently with a wooden spoon and pour into the casserole dish. (If your pan(s) aren't big enough add half the pasta to the casserole dish and pour half the cheese sauce over it. Add the remaining pasta and pour the rest of the sauce over it.)
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, crushed chips and dot the top with the cut up butter.
- Bake 25 minutes until bubbly and golden on top. Let it sit 5 - 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 9 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g