Spicy Version of a Comfort Classic

April 28, 2011 3 min read

By Chris Ross

A good mac and cheese recipe is always a crowd pleaser, and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar has a rich version with a hint of chipotle pepper.

Christopher Gardner and Matt Renstrom, chef partners of the steakhouses downtown and in La Jolla, Calif., offered to share their recipe for this classic comfort food with us.


1 gallon water

2 teaspoons kosher salt

16 ounces Cavatappi (S-shaped) pasta

2 tablespoons corn oil, divided use

3/4 cup onions, chopped into half-inch dice

4 ounces (1 stick) butter, lightly salted

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy cream

3 cups half-and-half

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon white pepper, fine grind

12 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated

4 ounces Cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Serves five

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large stockpot, bring water and salt to a boil. With water boiling, add pasta and cook eight to nine minutes. Drain pasta, and cool down under cold running water. Pasta should be slightly firm. Toss pasta with 1 tablespoon corn oil and reserve.

Melt butter in a large saucepot set on medium-high heat. Add diced onions, and saute for four to five minutes. Add flour, and cook for one to two more minutes. Do not brown.

Add cream, half-and-half, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick, about five to six minutes.

Blend both grated cheeses into the sauce. Add cooked pasta, and place in individual baking crocks or a 12-by-9-inch baking dish.

In a saute pan set on medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of corn oil and the chipotle chili powder. Heat for 30 seconds, until it starts to smoke.

Remove from stove and quickly stir in the breadcrumbs. Spread the crumbs over the pasta, and bake in 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until slightly golden brown and crisp on top.

Chris Ross writes for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

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