Me to Rahul: “What do you want for dinner this week?”
Rahul: “Tacos.” Every. Single. Time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love tacos, too. It seems like most Americans love taco night, right? What is it about stuffing ground beef in a tortilla shell with cheese, lettuce and spicy sauce that seemingly all of us can put our woes aside for? Even though we all make them differently with our favorite ingredients, they remind us of the same thing – our inherent love of Mexican food.
In my quest to always try new things, I decided to whip up a meal that would resemble tacos in the flavor but not visually. I give you – taco macaroni and cheese.
Rahul and I perfected our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe and have made a staple base that can be adapted in many new ways. The idea here is to mix taco beef – an assembly of ground beef, spices, and green chiles – into the macaroni and cheese, topped with crushed tortilla chips and served with sour cream, black beans, and diced tomatoes.
The cheese sauce is the key to our macaroni and cheese recipe. First introduced to you via our Creamy Gruyere, White Cheddar and Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese recipe, then in my Spicy Macaroni and Cheese with Cornichons recipe, we have finally felt good about creating mac and cheese at home.
Heck, skip the cheese sauce if you want and just eat the taco beef and elbow mac together. It looked delicious.
I thought about mixing the black beans in, but in all honesty, you don’t really need them at all. Add a few to your individual serving if you want to.
Since it’s just the two of us, we had leftovers for a few lunches, but this would easily serve a family of four with maybe one lunch leftover.
Taco Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 7-oz can dice green chiles
- 1 poblano, finely diced
- 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
- Taco seasoning of your choice (I used Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 3/4 cups whole milk
- 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tsp dried yellow mustard
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups tortilla chips, pulverized
- Black beans, sour cream, diced tomatoes for serving
- In a large skillet, brown the ground beef over medium high heat. Add the diced poblano pepper and taco seasoning of your choice (mine required 6 tablespoons of seasoning and 2/3 cup of water) and continue to cook until beef is browned. Drain the grease, then add the green chilies and cook for two minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, boil the elbow macaroni until al dente, approximately 9 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking dish.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Slowly whisk in the whole milk, letting cook for three minutes until milk is heated through. Whisk in the cheeses, a little at a time, until all of the cheese has melted. Add the spices and set aside.
- In the pot, you cooked the elbow mac in, stir together the pasta with the taco beef, then stir in the cheese sauce. Pour the macaroni and cheese into the baking dish and top with crumbled tortilla chips.
- Bake for 35 minutes or until brown and bubbly on top. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy with black beans, diced tomatoes, sour cream and cilantro or just eat as is!