Introduction: Spicy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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Why is macaroni and cheese so good? It might have something to do with the opioids that cheese releases when it melts, but it might also be that it's really tasty.

Sure, you could just buy a box, and stir in that pouch of cheese food product goo, but wouldn't you rather have something delicious? Gooey and cheesey, this has got a little kick, but you can cut down the amount of peppers (or leave them out) if it's too much for you.

Step 1: You'll Need. . .

- large pot
- medium heavy bottomed pot
- small bowl
- whisk
- sieve
- baking or casserole dish
- large spoon (wooden or other)

- .5 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups whole milk (can be substituted for 2% or skim - if you're into that kind of thing)
- .25 cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large egg
- 12 ounces shredded cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar and some jack), plus more for topping
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh black pepper
- .25 cup roasted jalepeno (see below)
- .25 roasted red pepper (see below)
- about .75 cup of breadcrumbs (day old bread, crackers, or a few slices of toast ground in a food processor or crushed inside a plastic bag work well for this)

Step 2: Making Roasted Peppers (Jalepeno And/or Red)

- kitchen tongs
- medium glass bowl
- plastic wrap
- for method 1, a cookie sheet is needed

- 1 smallish red pepper
- 2 jalepeno peppers
- vegetable oil to coat (oil in a spray can can be used since it's easier to control)

1. Wash peppers and dry well
2. Place on a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil, turning to coat (alternately, toss to coat with oil)
3. Slide under the broiler until the skin is blistered and blackened (peppers can also be placed over an open gas flame until the skin is blistered and black)
4. Using tongs, transfer peppers to bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap
5. Allow to steam for around 5 minutes
6. Rinse under cool water, peeling off the skin. It should release easily
7. For use, remove stems and seeds and chop. These also are great blended with some oil and spices as a dip, or blended with oil and basil over pasta.

Step 3: Making Cheese Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. In a medium pot, melt butter
3. Whisk in the flour, moving constantly for about 5 minutes, making sure there are no lumps
4. Stir in milk and onion, and simmer for ten minutes. It should thicken slightly
5. Beat the egg in the small bowl and add in a half cup of the milk mixture, stirring to temper the egg and prevent it from curdling when added back to the mixture
6. Add the egg and milk mixture back to the pot and stir well
7. Add 3/4 of the cheese, stir to combine and remove from heat.

Step 4: Cook the Pasta

Here's the easy part:
1. Fill a large pot with salted water
2. Bring to a boil
3. Add pasta and cook until tender but al dente
4. Drain and return to the pot

Step 5: Mix It All Up

1. Add the cheese sauce to the pasta
2. Stir in salt, pepper, and roasted peppers
3. Pour into baking or casserole dish
4. Top with remaining cheese and bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
5. Bake for 30 minutes
6. Remove from oven and allow to rest for five minutes before serving (if you can wait that long)
7. Enjoy!

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