I started to watch Gilmore Girls almost a year ago. I didn't really like it when it was on originally, so I wasn’t really expecting to like it when I decided to give it a try during a winter laundry day last January. But I fell hard, and proceeded to watch nothing but Gilmore for the next 6 weeks. Now, although I’ve already watched it about four times through since my initial watch, I still associate it with a cozy, cold weather vibe. Winter also comes with one of the show's main features, the Gilmore Fantasy diet that comes with each episode. Some say gross, I say jealous. I digress. As soon as I read that there was going to be an unofficial Gilmore Girls cookbook in the middle of last year, my obsession was fresh and I was already in the planning stages of this blog, so I knew I had to have it. I backed the kickstarter and anxiously awaited my book, which came in the fall.
Now that it’s winter again and the blog is up and running, I was craving some Sookie-brand comfort food. I’m back in the middle of season four, when Sookie and Lorelai’s catering company puts on its first gig, a Lord of the Rings birthday party. Sookie ignorantly makes this mac and cheese with jalepeño-chipotle cream sauce for the kids. In the show, this was a massive fail because no kid would go near it, but man I’m glad I get to try the mac with a twist in real life. Mine turned out not as...green as it looks in the show. I think that's partly because of my lack of food processor and partly because that's not how it would really look.
Anyway, it's cheesy, spicy and delicious and the perfect addition to your average mac and cheese.
I halved the recipe below because nobody needs to live in a world where I finish a 9x13 dish of this on my own.
At this point, you're supposed to put these ingredients into a food processor to make a nice jalapeño-chipotle sauce. But between my Nutribullet and my immersion blender, it became more of a sad clumpy paste. It still tasted fine though! So I gave up and proceeded with a less evenly distributed sauce in the pasta.
sookie's mac and cheese in a jalapeño-chipotle cream sauce
inspired by Gilmore Girls season 4, episode 3
serves 4-6 (or 6-8 smaller servings if making as a side dish)
- butter, shortening or cooking spray to prepare pan
- 8 cups water
- 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 3 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 lb. Farfalle pasta
- 3 large jalapeño peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, cut in half
- 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped chipotle peppers
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350ºF with the rack in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and the pasta to the water. Stir a few times so the pasta won't stick together. Cook pasta until it's al dente on the edges but still hard in the middle. Remove from heat and strain. Pour the pasta into the prepared baking pan so it's evenly spread across the bottom. Set the pan with the pasta aside.
Heat the 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil, jalapeños and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently so the peppers are evenly coated with oil. Once the edges of the peppers are lightly browned and the garlic is golden brown, add the chipotle peppers. Cook for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Put the mixture into a blender or food processor and use the stir or chop setting until the mixture is a smooth sauce without lumps. (It was at this point that I gave up on this goal and spread around my sad paste.) Pour the sauce onto the pasta and fold it into the pasta until it is evenly distributed.
To make the cream sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. (I used the same pan as I did to cook the peppers because of my little "mishap" with the pepper sauce in an effort to pick up some more of the flavor to mix into the pasta.) Once the butter is melted, add the flour and stir until a grainy, yellowish paste is created. Add milk. Stir constantly for several minutes (it feels like forever) until the sauce becomes noticeably thicker. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Pour the sauce into the pasta-pepper sauce mixture and stir gently until it is evenly distributed.
Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil, shiny side down. Place in the center of the oven and bake covered for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes uncovered. Remove from oven. Let stand for five minutes. Serve.
[cooked while watching This Is Us (most recent episode) and The Bachelor (most recent episode)]