Recipe courtesy of Jaymee Sire

Mac 'n' Cheese with Roasted Jalapeños and Pancetta

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 55 min
  • Active: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
This extra creamy mac 'n’ cheese has extra umami from crispy pancetta—used in the roux and as a topping—and spicy notes from roasted jalapeños!



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until slightly less than al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk and half-and-half in a small saucepan until it almost simmers. Keep warm. 
  4. Place the pancetta in a medium skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until crispy, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the fat in the skillet. 
  5. Keep about 2 tablespoons of the pancetta fat in the skillet (pour off any extra) and return the skillet to medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking frequently, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk mixture. Continue cooking, whisking frequently and lowering the heat if necessary so it doesn't scorch on the bottom, until the sauce is simmering and thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the Cheddar, fontina and pecorino. Fold in the cream cheese and continue stirring until the cheeses melt. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the roasted jalapeños. 
  7. Stir the cheese sauce into the pot with the drained pasta. Transfer to a 2-quart baking dish or individual ovenproof serving dishes (such as ramekins, French onion soup bowls or mini pie pans). Sprinkle with the pancetta and bake until browned on top and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note

For homemade roasted jalapeños, place 2 fresh jalapeños on a burner of a gas stove over medium-high heat. Turn the jalapeños as they char until they're black all over. Place them in a paper bag and let them steam for 15 to 20 minutes. When the jalapeños are cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin and the seeds. Keep a bowl of water nearby to keep your hands clean. Chop and set aside.