One Pot Mac & Cheese with a Southwestern Twist

My grandmother makes the best macaroni and cheese. Whenever I couldn’t travel home for Thanksgiving or Easter, my little brother would – without fail – text me a picture of it. It’s sacrosanct. So here’s the crazy thing: I like this mac and cheese better. I feel awful saying it, but there it is.

I love the idea of cooking the pasta in milk instead of dirtying another pan with making a roux, but I hate babysitting the cooking pasta with constant stirring. Then, I had an idea: just turn the stove off! I’ve never seen a mac and cheese recipe quite like this: you just bring the milk almost to a boil, stir, cover the pot, and turn off the heat. I’ve made it several times without any curdling or grainy weirdness that so many homemade mac and cheese recipes can be prone to.

This recipe calls for the addition of mild green chilies, sweet corn, and a splash of salsa because I love creating recipes that take a children’s favorite and give it a slight twist to help introduce new flavors to little palates. It’s a great way to introduce the warmth of New Mexican cuisine in a kid-friendly way.

If you love spicy foods, you might want to add a little more green chiles. I used conchiglie pasta, a about a 1″ shell shape, to catch the sauce, but you can use whatever shape you prefer.

Macaroni and Cheese


  • 4 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 4 1/4 cups conchiglie pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups packed and freshly grated monterey jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups. packed and freshly grated colby cheese
  • 3 Tbsp diced green chilies
  • 4 Tbsp smooth-consistency mild salsa
  • 1 cups frozen sweet corn


  • In a dutch oven or pot with a lid, carefully bring the milk and pasta almost to a boil over medium to medium high heat, stirring frequently. You'll see bubbles around the edge of the pan, and the pasta will slightly pulsate from the building heat. Do not let it reach a boil or the milk will curdle.
  • Stir well, cover, and turn off the heat for 30 minutes. Stir the pasta once halfway through the 30 minutes and recover.
  • Add grated cheese, stirring well.
  • Add corn, salsa, and chilies.
  • If you're serving immediately, heat the pasta up over low heat, just until the cheese melts and it warms through. If you're serving later, do not turn the heat back on. Instead, cover the dutch oven with foil, refrigerate until you need it, and put it in the oven at 350 until it's warm.
 One Pot Mac & Cheese with a Southwestern Twist Recipes

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