Cooking With Confidence
mac and cheese
Chicken, Economical, Main Dishes, Pasta, Side Dishes, Spicy

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

by Nick

There’s this really cool spot across from the Austin Convention Center called Moonshine. They serve kind of new style Southern food. Stuff like chicken fried steak that’s as big as a plate, but then they also bring out free spicy popcorn when you sit down. It’s that kind of place. While I was in Austin I met some of my family that I haven’t seen in a very long time for a dinner there one night and I really loved the food.

My favorite thing was this slightly spicy macaroni and cheese dish that had green chiles, black beans, corn, and chicken. It was so delicious I mentally bookmarked it as something I had to try to replicate.

I’m not sure how technically close my version is to theirs, but it tasted darn close to their version so I’ll count it as a win!

Yield
Serves 6-8.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound pepper jack cheese
  • 1 large chicken breast, grilled or pan seared
  • 2 poblano peppers (if you can find Hatch green chiles, use those)
  • 1 Cup black beans (I used canned)
  • 1 Cup sweet corn, frozen works best
  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

1) To roast peppers, add them directly to the flame over a grill or a gas stove.  Turn the peppers ever minute or so until they are completely charred.  Add the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit for 10 minutes to steam.

2) Remove peppers and peel or rub off skin.  Don't rinse the peppers under water.  Once peeled, remove seeds and dice them up.

3) If you're using chicken, season it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and some dried chili flakes if you have some.  Sear it for about 5 minutes a side and then finish it in a 350 degree oven until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  You could also grill it.  Let the chicken rest for a few minutes and then dice it up into small bites.

4) Toast panko crumbs in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.  They should be lightly browned.  Set aside for later.

5) Drain and rinse black beans from can and set aside.

6) Melt butter in medium to large pot over medium heat.  Once melted add diced onion and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for another few minutes.

7) Whisk in milk in 1 cup batches.  Add it slowly to avoid lumps.  Continue to cook the sauce and turn the heat down to medium-low once the milk is added.  It should start to thicken and be the consistency of a light gravy.

8) Whisk in cheese and once cheese is melted, add roasted chiles.

9) Cook macaroni according to package, drain, add macaroni back to pot and add cheese sauce to macaroni.  Stir to combine, then add diced chicken, beans, and corn.  Season with salt and pepper.

10) Before serving, add toasted breadcrumbs on top.

There’s some good stuff in this mac and cheese, but try not to add too many fillers. One cup of beans and corn is enough to give it some good texture. At the end of the day you want it to be a mac and cheese with some stuff in it, not a salad covered in cheese sauce.

Roasting the peppers

If you’re in a pinch, you could use the canned roasted peppers that they sell for this, but if you have a grill or a gas stove, you can just roast your own. It just takes a few minutes and is a cool party trick.

peppers

Blistered!

Crank your heat up to high on your gas stove or grill and lay the peppers right on the flames. Turn them every minute or so until they are almost completely charred. You’re looking for like a 90% char coverage.

When they are done, add them to a bowl and cover them with some plastic wrap.

charred

90% char is good.

The plastic wrap will help them steam and make them easier to peel. Let them sit for about 10 minutes. After that they should be cool enough to handle and also the skins should peel right off.

To Wash or Not To Wash

When you’re roasting peppers, it’s kind of a messy job to peel them. You’ll be tempted to run the peppers under water to rinse off all the extra skin. I do not recommend this. It’ll make your peppers cleaner, but it’ll also wash off a ton of great flavor that’s on the outside of the peppers. They been steeping in their own delicious pepper juices for 10 minutes and to wash all that off is crazy talk.

So just do your best to get off most the skin and then remove the seeds, dice them up, and add them to a bowl.

chopped

Peeled and chopped.

Other ingredients

The original mac and cheese dish had some grilled chicken that was folded in to the mac and cheese. It wasn’t an excessive amount of chicken. Just a few pieces here and there.

I seasoned a few chicken breasts with olive oil, salt and pepper, and some dried chili flakes. Then I just seared them for about 5 minutes per side in a cast iron skillet and then finished them off in a 350 degree oven until they were cooked through, another 15 minutes or so.

You could just as easily grill these or, heck, just leave them out.

I only used one of these for the actual mac and cheese.

chicken

Optional protein.

The other thing that made this recipe was some toasted breadcrumbs that they added on top of the mac and cheese right before serving it. Since it’s not a baked dish, it needs some crunchy texture.

I added about a cup of panko to a dry skillet and toasted it until it turned a nice tan color, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle this on the dish right before serving it.

toasted

Really good topping.

Making the cheese sauce

The important part of this dish is obviously the cheese sauce. I made a pretty standard version, but added some onion to my roux and also used pepper jack cheese to give it a bit of a kick.

Start by adding your diced onion to the butter in a good sized pot. Stir the onion and butter over medium heat until the onion is translucent and soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Then add in the flour and continue to cook for another few minutes.

At this point you’ll have a standard roux with some onion mixed in.

onion

This roux will make ya cry!

Slowly whisk in your milk to the roux in 1 cup batches. It should thicken up pretty nicely. After three cups it might be a bit runny, but continue to simmer it over medium low heat and it’ll thicken up. When it gets to the consistency of a light gravy, start stirring in your cheese.

It’s a lot of cheese, but it’ll fit.

cheese

Just the beginning of the cheese…

Once all your cheese is melted, stir in your green chiles also!

chilis added

Bam!

Finishing the dish

Cook the macaroni according to the package and when it’s done, drain it and add it back to the pot. Then stir in the green chile cheese sauce!

It might look a bit runny, but it’ll thicken up as we add more stuff and it cooks together a bit.

mac start

It’ll seem a bit runny.

Stir in the chicken, corn, and black beans. Continue to stir it over low heat and season it with salt and pepper. It’ll need a good pinch of both.

You can serve it right out of the pot!

finished

Lots of goodies in there.

If you were making this for a dinner party or something (recommended) you might want to put it in something more decorative.

It’s one of the best mac and cheese dishes I’ve made!

another shot

One of the best I’ve made!

I forgot to sprinkle on the breadcrumbs before snapping my last picture, but they are pretty essential. Don’t forget them! They give the dish some great crunchy texture.

This might not be a beginners mac and cheese. You have to make a cheese sauce, roast some peppers, and maybe sear some chicken, but it’s totally doable and it makes a mountain of food.

If you’re a mac and cheese fan then you should give this a shot. If you aren’t a mac and cheese fan then I’m not sure why you read this far!

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25 comments on “Green Chile Mac and Cheese

  1. I make a chipotle mac and cheese sans chicken, corn and beans. But this looks so good, I'm going to have to alter my recipe. Can't wait to try this out!

  2. Nick, I don't have a gas range, so I always roast my poblanos under the broiler, it always works in a pinch.

    This looks delicious! Any chance you'll be trying a mole sauce anytime soon?

  3. Oh man that looks great!! I love anything green chile. We even bought a little chile roaster to do our own! Gotta try this one.
    My recent post Sundays

  4. I can't ever just make the recipe the way it's written! So I took out the chicken (I'm veg anyway) and used quinoa instead of mac. Also, I tried using potato flour for the roux, which was… interesting. And it was (is) shockingly tasty.

  5. I always roast my peppers under the broiler. Works in a pinch when you don't have a gas range and the grill is covered in snow.

    This looks delicious Nick, when are we going to see a mole recipe on Macheesmo?

  6. I tried making this tonight with a slight change…my grocery store did not have any of the fresh peppers and the canned one's did not specify which type of peppers they were…was going to use them anyway until I went to the frozen foods for the corn….there was a southwest mix with corn, black beans, poblano peppers, roasted onions and bell pepper so I used that instead and I left out the chicken….turned out great…next time I might add a bit of white cheddar to the sauce to see how it turns out….thanks for a great new recipe!

  7. I made this. The best part was roasting the peppers on my gas stove. It was great and lasted for several days!

  8. I’ve always loved homemade mac and cheese, especially with loads of mustard. But this is an amazing twist on it. I loved the roasted poblano peppers, and the black beans added great texture.
    This was the first dish I’ve made from your blog, which I’ve recently discovered, and i’m pretty excited about all this. Looking forward to making more.

  9. Making this for daughter’s birthday dinner – she always used to drag us to Moonshine’s when we visited her at UT – always ordered this! Might not be the same but looks great and I just bought poblanos and corn at the farmers market – win win!

  10. I’ve made this a few times, including as a side dish to take to a Tex-Mex-themed barbecue (Betsy would’ve been in heaven, I’m sure…). It was a hit then and it’s still the most common mac’n’cheese I make (I’ve done a vegan version, too, with cashew cream, nutritious yeast, and some spices for the “cheese” sauce – I skip the chicken and up the beans and corn).

    Anyway, I like to broil a whole bunch of poblanos when I see them on sale. I just roasted about 20 or so this weekend. (Green chili is definitely the theme for this week’s menu). I’m making this. Also planning to do a white pizza with green chilies (and prob some pepper jack mixed in with the moz). They’re also an amazing sandwich topper. Toast some hearty bread; add some turkey or chicken; some mayo (homemade if possible); warmed, roasted poblanos; and salt and pepper. Cheese, avocado, etc. is all optional, but not necessary. The mayo is, in my opinion. It mixes amazingly with the roasted chilies.

    I’ve never seen hatch chilies in any market I’ve ever been to; I always keep an eye out. Maybe we just don’t get the around here (New Orleans), or I’ve just missed them, or maybe they also go by another name as well?

    1. Hey Brendan. Yea… hatch chilies are definitely a regional thing. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to easily find them outside of NM, Arizona, CO, TX area. Any roasted chile will be awesome though. Glad you like the mac n Cheese!

  11. Thanks Nick for posting this. I love “Moonshine” and ALWAYS order this dish when we visit there. I’m sure their other food is equally as delicious but I’ve never tried anything else. At one point, when recommending the place to a friend, I mistakenly remembered the name as “Green Chile Café”. Thankfully, I came to my senses and got the name right or she would have missed a real treat. This week some friends and I are having a pot-luck where we were asked to bring something “green” to eat in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Although the dish isn’t very green in color I’m hoping the “green” in the name will allow it to pass inspection. I’m sure once it is sampled everyone will be happy I brought it. Thanks again for posting. I’ve been scouring the net for something similar and was thrilled to find your “exact” recipe.

  12. Oh my word!! Finally got around to making this and it ROCKS! I made it without the chicken as a meatless main dish and we truly enjoyed it. Thanks so much for the recipe.

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