(BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese recipe originally inspired by Will Cook for Smiles here.)
Step by Step Instructions:
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this fabulous BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese and impress everyone you know: Salt & Pepper, Jalapeño Tobasco (especially necessary if you use Almond Milk), 10 slices of Bacon (I like the lower sodium variety), favorite Pasta for Macaroni and cheese (Cavatappi is what I went for but elbow macaroni is a great option), Almond Milk (or regular if you prefer), favorite BBQ Sauce, Chipotle Chili Pepper, 1 Poblano Pepper, 2 tablespoons of Flour, 2 Chicken Breasts, Smoked Paprika (or regular paprika if you can’t find the smoked variety), Ground Mustard, 8 ounces of Smoked Cheddar Cheese (or Sharp Cheddar if you can’t find smoked), and 2 tablespoons of Butter. (Not pictured is Grapeseed Oil, but you can use your favorite cooking oil like olive oil.)
First of all, go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 degrees so you’re not waiting for it. Then I preferred to poach my chicken (it’s easy, cleaner, healthier, and I have to deal with raw chicken way less) so I filled a large pot 2/3’s full of water and brought it to a boil.
While the water boils, I shredded my cheese. Today I used my food processor, so I didn’t have to deal with grating it by hand to save time.
Once the water is boiling, place the 2 chicken breasts in the boiling water, cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Let it poach for 12-15 minutes or until you can cut into the thickest part and it’s cooked through. I think mine was closer to 18 minutes.
As the chicken poached, I cooked my bacon with my favorite method – the NuWave oven. You’ll want 10 slices of bacon total, so cook it your favorite way. If you use a NuWave (which I think makes the BEST bacon), here’s how I cook it: Start off by cooking it for 8 minutes, flip the bacon over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes or until the bacon is crispy.
Go ahead and cut up your poblano pepper. First I wash it really well. Then I cut off the top of the pepper and discard it.
Then cut the pepper up into sections removing the stems and seeds.
Then dice it up!
At this point, the chicken was cooked. Just set it aside and let it cool for a few minutes. Keep the water in the pot and bring it back to a boil.
In a nonstick pan, heat about a teaspoon of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the peppers along with a little salt and pepper and stir regularly until the peppers are tender and get a little brown. Then remove them from the pan and set them aside.
Add about 1/2 a pound of pasta to the boiling water and cook according to your package instructions.
Your chicken should be cool enough now to work with. Cut it into bite-sized pieces. Not only is poaching easy, but the chicken is so juicy and yummy!
Once the pasta is finished, go ahead and drain it.
Around now, my bacon had cooled and drained on a paper towel lined plate. Oh isn’t it glorious??
Slice the bacon into bite-sized pieces.
Now it’s time to start the cheese sauce, which means BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese is nearly ready to put together! In a small bowl you’ll want 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 teaspoon each of chipotle chili pepper, smoked paprika, and ground mustard, and then a nice pinch of salt and pepper.
Using the pan you cooked the poblano peppers in, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.
Then add the flour and spice mixture to the melted butter.
Whisk to combine the flour and butter and cook for 30-60 seconds.
Add the almond milk a little at a time and whisk to make sure all of the flour is incorporated. This helps prevent lumps.
Now it’s time to add that glorious smoked cheddar cheese you grated. Yum!
Whisk in the cheese, and taste it. If the sauce taste slightly sweet from the almond milk, you can add several dashes of Jalapeño Tobasco sauce. You can even add it if you use regular milk. It really helps cut the sweetness. And my sauce didn’t taste like almond milk at all, but I still wanted the tobasco because it’s that good!
Add the drained pasta, chicken, bacon, poblanos, and cheese sauce to a large bowl (or you can re-use the pot you cooked the pasta in once the water is dumped out).
Fold in all of the ingredients until you have a lovely, cheesy concoction! I mean, wow you really could stop at this point and dig into the BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese – but we shall carry on!
Grease a baking dish with cooking spray and transfer the mixture to the dish and smooth the top.
Then drizzle or spoon BBQ sauce over the top of the BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese. You don’t want it covered, but some here or there works well. Then pop it in the oven for 10-15 minutes so that the pasta is heated through.
And about 15 minutes later, my BBQ Poblano Mac ’n Cheese was cooked through and smelling delicious. Serve it right away and enjoy it on its own or as a side to your next BBQ night! Happy baking!!
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless skinless
- 10 slices of raw bacon (hickory smoked flavor), diced
- Freshly cracked Black Pepper
- ½ lb Pasta (I prefer Cavatappi but pick your favorite for mac ’n cheese)
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Flour
- 8 oz Smoked Cheddar Cheese, grated (sharp cheddar will work if you can't find smoked)
- ¾ cup Almond Milk
- Jalapeno Tobasco
- ¼ tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
- ¼ tsp Smoked Paprika
- ¼ tsp Ground Mustard
- Favorite BBQ sauce (about ¼ cup)
- Begin by poaching your chicken breasts. Heat a large pot of water ⅔’s full. Once the water is boiling, add the chicken breasts to the pan, cover and remove from the heat. Let the chicken poach in the water for 12-15 minutes or until it’s cooked all the way through.
- While the chicken cooks, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then cook 10 strips of bacon your preferred method. I like to use the NuWave oven and cook for 8 minutes, then flip the bacon and cook 2-3 minutes longer until crispy. Let the bacon sit on a paper towel lined plate and then cut into small pieces once its cooled.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and let it cool a bit then dice it into bite-sized pieces. Keep the water and cook your pasta in the chicken water according to your package instructions.
- In a pan heat a teaspoon of grapeseed oil over medium heat and add the diced poblano pepper and season with a little salt and pepper. Stir regularly until the pepper is tender and starting to brown. Then set aside the pepper in a bowl until you need it.
- Start the cheese sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in the pan you used for the peppers. As the butter melts, combine the flour, salt, pepper, chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika and ground mustard. Then add the dry ingredients to the melted butter. Whisk until the flour is absorbed by the butter and let it cook as you stir for 30-60 seconds.
- Pour in a little milk at a time to mix it in so that it doesn’t get lumpy. Once all of the milk is added and the sauce is thick, add the grated cheese. Continue to stir until the cheese melts. If you’re using almond milk, add 5-6 dashes of Jalapeño Tobasco to the sauce to help balance out the sweetness of the milk.
- Add the pasta, chicken, bacon, and poblano peppers to a pot or bowl. Then pour the cheese sauce over the top. Stir until it’s full combined.
- Grease a baking dish with cooking spray and then add the pasta mixture to the pan. Spread the top so it’s even and drizzle with a little BBQ sauce over the top. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the dish is bubbly. Serve right away and enjoy!