If you thought you were craving ordinary mac and cheese, think again. Here, we combine all the gooey, melty goodness of a classic mac with the rich, spicy flavors of a bacon-wrapped jalapeño popper. The result? The comfort food you never knew you needed. It’s got it all: twirly cavatappi noodles tossed in a creamy, cheesy sauce. Salty crumbles of bacon. A crispy, spiced panko crust for crunch. Jalapeño slices for heat. And to top it all off, it’s all ready in just 35 minutes—what more could you want?
Produced in a facility that processes milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybean.
Cream Sauce Base(ContainsMilk)
Monterey Jack Cheese(ContainsMilk)
Mexican Cheese Blend(ContainsMilk)
Southwest Spice Blend
• Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil (use a large pot for 4 servings). • Heat a large, dry pan over medium heat. Add bacon*; cook, turning occasionally and adjusting heat if browning too quickly, until crispy, 6-10 minutes. • Turn off heat; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. • Carefully discard all but a thin layer of bacon fat from pan (you’ll use this to cook the aromatics later).
• While bacon cooks, wash and dry produce. • Halve jalapeño crosswise, removing ribs and seeds for less heat; thinly slice one half into rounds and finely dice remaining. Trim and thinly slice scallions, separating whites from greens. Peel and mince garlic.
• Once water is boiling, add cavatappi to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 9-11 minutes. • Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water (2 cups for 4 servings), then drain. • While pasta cooks, place 1 TBSP butter (2 TBSP for 4) in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave until melted, 30 seconds. Stir in panko. Season with salt and pepper.
• Heat pan with reserved bacon fat over medium-high heat. Add sliced jalapeño; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a second small bowl and set aside. • Add scallion whites, diced jalapeño, and garlic to pan. Cook until slightly softened, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
• Add flour to pan with aromatics; whisk until thoroughly coated. • Whisk in cream sauce base, cream cheese, half the Southwest Spice (all for 4 servings), and ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water (1 cup for 4); reduce heat to low. Simmer, whisking, until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. • Whisk in Mexican cheese and Monterey Jack until melted and creamy.
• Heat broiler to high. • Roughly chop bacon. Stir bacon and drained cavatappi into pan with cheese sauce. (TIP: If your pan is not large enough, carefully transfer everything into pot used to cook pasta.) If needed, stir in more reserved pasta cooking water a splash at a time until cavatappi is coated in a creamy sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
• Transfer mac & cheese to an 8-by-8- inch baking dish (for 4 servings, use a 9-by-13-inch baking dish). Sprinkle with panko and sliced jalapeño. • Broil until panko is browned and crispy, 2-3 minutes. (TIP: Watch carefully to avoid burning.) Sprinkle with scallion greens. • Divide between plates or serve directly from baking dish.