Spicy Kale Mac and Cheese – Hännah Ettinger

Spicy Kale Mac & Cheese [Photo Credit: Connor Joel]

Spicy Kale Mac & Cheese [Photo Credit: Connor Joel]

2 tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ (scant) teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ (heaping) teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
⅔ – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cooked pasta; we recommend elbow macaroni or tri-color rotini.
⅔ to 1 cup fresh kale, chopped
About ⅓ cup shredded Parmesan or cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Grease a cast iron skillet or other oven-safe baking dish with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.

In boiling, salted water, cook 2 cups pasta of your choice until firm but tender (al dente), about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside in your baking dish.

Over medium heat, melt butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and seasonings, stir until roux forms, golden brown and bubbly.

Pour in 2 cups whole milk and reduce heat to medium-low, whisk until lumps are gone, careful not to scald your milk on the bottom of the pan. This could take a while.

Once milk begins to steam a little, dump in the cheese and whisk while it melts into your white sauce. As the sauce thickens, continue whisking the bottom of the pan to keep it from scalding. Stir out any lumps that form, allowing your sauce to become thick, creamy, and even. (Note: if using extra sharp cheddar, some grainy texture may be inevitable).

When your sauce has thickened sufficiently, smooth and not at all runny, turn off the heat and pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir around the edges of your dish to coat the pasta evenly. Add chopped kale and stir throughout.

Liberally sprinkle another ⅓ cup of cheese over the top of the pasta.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the cheese starts to get golden. Broil for another 2-3 minutes for an extra crunch on top.

Makes 4-8 servings.

Serving Suggestions:
You can eat this unaccompanied, but I like to top with strips of a bourbon-seared pepper chicken for protein.