Shishito peppers, which originate in East Asia, are most often served blistered, or charred, and then finished with a splash of citrus. Usually a fairly mild pepper, it's often said that one in every 10 shishitos is fiery hot! For this mac and cheese, I wanted to use the shishitos like another mild pepper: the poblano. I used flavors more associated with Mexican cuisine, like cumin, ground oregano, and paprika, and still added tons of lime zest to accentuate the shishitos, and cut through all the sharp cheddar!
SHISHITO MAC & CHEESE
serves 4 - 6
2 pints shishito peppers
4 c whole milk
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground oregano
⅛ tsp cayenne
½ ea yellow onion
1 lb pasta, shape of your choice
½ c unsalted butter
½ c flour
1 tsp lime zest (about ½ of a lime)
1 lb sharp white cheddar, grated
Preheat a high broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil, then spread out the shishitos evenly on top. Place under the broiler and char, turning as necessary, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Combine the milk, salt, spices, and onion in a large sauté pan, and place over very low heat, allowing the flavors to infuse without simmering, at least 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions.
Remove the onion from the infused milk, then add in the butter and flour. Bring the heat up to medium, and whisk often, allowing the sauce to thicken, about 10-12 minutes.
Remove the stems from the cooled shishitos and roughly chop. When the sauce is thick, stir in the chopped shishitos and the lime zest, then turn off the heat and stir in all but ½ cup of cheese. When the cheese has melted, fold in the pasta.
Top the mac and cheese with the remaining cheddar, then place under the broiler until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately!