The husband is obsessed with the NCAA 2010 college football game for the Xbox, so the other night while he was playing it I decided to dig around on the Rick Bayless website and see what I could find. There were some very tasty sounding recipes I came across and emailed to myself. This was one I wanted to try as soon as I possibly could. I had wanted to make Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken because we hadn't had it in a long time, and it's so tasty and easy. I figured since this would have some of the same flavors as the chicken, it would be a decent pairing.
Chef Rick Bayless' Salsa Mac and Cheese
Recipe from Season 7 of Mexico - One Plate at a Time
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 1/2 to 2 cups Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa or your favorite salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound dried pasta (though elbow macaroni will do, I suggest you try cork-screw cavatappi or the spiral rotini or fusilli)
Pour 4 quarts of water into a large pot, cover and set over high heat.
In a medium-size saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then stir in the flour and whisk until the mixture turns a deep golden, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and continue to whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, 4 or 5 minutes. (Whisk diligently and there will be no lumps.) Stir in the salsa, remove from the heat, then stir in cheese. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Taste and season generously with salt, usually 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cover to keep warm until the pasta is done.
When the water has come to a boil, add the dried pasta. Stir well to keep the pasta from sticking together and boil until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and add the pasta to the sauce. Stir until all the pasta is covered in the salsa cheese sauce. You’re ready to dig in.
I've mentioned before the difficulties I have making a roux, but I have to say a butter roux versus an oil roux is so much easier! Or maybe I'm just getting better at them. Hard to say. I didn't want to mess with making my own salsa, so I bought some fire roasted tomato salsa instead. I also cut the recipe in half. This was tasty, but I used reduced fat cheese, which I think was a mistake. It would have been better with regular cheese I think, and I think mine had a bit too much salsa. We all really liked it--especially the baby! He'd literally scream when he didn't have any left on his tray. I'll definitely make this again. Oh, Rick Bayless, how I heart you.