The worst form of precipitation has hit my corner of the world. Frigid rain has been falling at a near-constant rate these past few days. I feel like dry socks are a distant memory at this point. Is there anything worse than cold rain? I mean, I get that shoveling snow is a bummer. But you can still play in the snow. But cold rain? Well, I don’t know anyone who plays in that and I’m not sure I want to. Cold rain is just miserable, plain and simple. And it’s probably what mother nature has in store for us for the foreseeable future. So it’s time to break out the comfort food big guns. It’s time to mix up this Blistered Shishito Mac and Cheese.
This mac and cheese recipe is a new favorite in this house. We’ve long been lovers of slightly adulterated versions of the classic – chili mac being our all-time favorite. In fact, we love chili mac so much, it’s pretty much the only version we consistently eat. That’s why I was so surprised when this Blistered Shishito Mac and Cheese wandered into my head. I was a little skeptical at first, do blistered shishitos really need to fall in with mac and cheese? But I gave it a whirl and it was damn good. Like, “chili mac who?” good. I’m exaggerating, I could never forsake my chili mac. But this dish is dang good.
So, what are you looking at here? Well, this dish consists of your basic elbow macaroni enveloped in a creamy, cheesy sauce flavored with fontina and sharp cheddar. Swirled into the sauce is a puree of blistered shishito peppers. The dish is finished with toasted panko breadcrumbs and a few intact shishito peppers.
Now, you may have noticed that this mac and cheese is a stovetop version. I, like most children of the 90s, grew up on boxed mac and cheese. And consequently, I have an intense affection for stovetop mac and cheese. I understand not everyone shares this sentiment. Most homemade versions of the good stuff call for at least a brief visit to the oven. But I prefer stovetop mac and cheese because I think they’re silkier and creamier than their baked counterparts. But recognizing that I’m likely in the minority, I have included baking instructions for this Blistered Shishito Mac and Cheese in the recipe below.
If you do choose to bake your mac and cheese, disregard the panko toasting instructions. Simply sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta before popping it in the oven. The oven will take them the rest of the way there. I just like to add them to my stovetop mac for a little crunch, which is the one thing I feel like baked mac and cheese has over the stovetop version. That crunchy, crisp lid is hard to deny.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Blistered Shishito Mac and Cheese. But if you’re in need of a bit more guidance, check out the video below. And if you enjoy it, give it a like, and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. I got lots of fun stuff on there.
Blistered Shishito Mac and Cheese
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter divided
- 235g (8oz) shishito peppers divided
- 454g (1lb) dried elbow macaroni
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1½ cups 2% milk
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 200g (7oz) sharp cheddar shredded
- 200g (7oz) fontina shredded
- Turn on the broiler. We want it good and hot before we introduce it to the shishito peppers.
- While the broiler is heating up, pour the panko breadcrumbs into a dry skillet and place it over medium heat. Toast the crumbs until golden, shaking the pan frequently. Once the crumbs are amber, transfer them to a bowl. Melt 1 teaspoon of the butter and pour it over the breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt and toss to coat and set them aside.
- Wipe out the skillet you used to toast the breadcrumbs and add 185g of the shishito peppers. Pop them under the broiler and blister them. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler. Check on them and shake the pan every so often.
- Take the peppers out of the oven and transfer them to a food processor. Leave your broiler on and reserve the skillet, we’re not done with them. Blitz the peppers until they resemble mulch. Transfer to a bowl and set it aside.
- Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring it to a boil. While we’re waiting for the water to come to a boil, we can get started on the cheese sauce.
- Melt the remaining butter in a large deep skillet, whisk in the flour to form a roux. Whisk in the white wine followed by the milk. Add the milk in splashes and fully integrate each addition before adding more. Once the milk is in, add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and leave the sauce to simmer and thicken slightly.
- Your water should be boiling by now. Liberally salt the water and add a pound of dried macaroni. Cook according to the package's directions.
- Pour the remaining shishito peppers into the reserved skillet and pop them under the broiler. Add the cheeses to the simmering sauce and stir until melted. Finally, add the shishito puree from earlier and stir until thoroughly integrated. Give the sauce a taste and season with additional salt if needed.
- Once your pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the sauce. Stir until evenly coated. When the peppers are good and blistered, you’re ready to serve. Spoon the finished Mac into bowls and top with the toasted panko and a few of the blistered shishito peppers. Serve immediately.