There can be no better combination than creamy mac and cheese mixed with fresh roasted Hatch green chiles, topped with lightly crisped but meltingly tender carnitas.
That is unless you’re on a diet, but let’s not talk about that right now.
Roasting Your Green Chiles
You don’t need an open fire to roast green chiles, although the smokiness the fire adds makes them taste even better. They taste great roasted in your home oven.
It also makes your house smell amazing.
Just roast them on high under your broiler with the rack in it’s highest position. Turn them over after they’ve turned black and roast the opposite side.
To make them easy to peel, put them in a heat-proof bowl, and cover with plastic wrap to allow them to steam.
Once they’ve cooled enough to handle, peel off the blackened skin, then tear off the stem, and remove the seed pod along with any stray seeds.
You can run them under cool water to help remove some of the seeds. Just don’t run them under the water too long. You’ll wash some of the flavor away along with the seeds.
There are as many methods to make carnitas as there are cooks.
This method is my preferred method when I want them super tender and slightly crispy. It does require some patience, though.
They need to cook long enough that the fat layers, in-between the layers of meat, liquifies. If you get impatient, the fat layer will come out gelatinous and might be off-putting to some of your guests.
Just brown them well, being very careful not to be popped or splattered by the cooking fat. If it’s popping too much, lower your heat a bit.
Additionally, a splatter screen helps if you want to avoid making a big mess.
Once your carnitas are sufficiently browned, add the braising liquid (chicken stock in this case) and the rest of your ingredients, then cover and simmer on low for about forty minutes.
After they’re done braising, remove the lid and discard the bits of orange. Then turn the heat to medium-high and boil until all of the liquid evaporates.
You’ll know all the liquid is gone when you see the solids separate from the rendered fat from the pork. Now, you want to fry, continually stirring, until the pork pieces are crispy on the outside.
Before topping your mac and cheese, remove them from the pot, then break them up into small pieces with a couple of forks. Don’t completely shred them, though. That’ll toughen them up.
Cooking Your Macaroni and Cheese
The steps for the macaroni and cheese in this recipe is a classic preparation.
The critical thing to keep in mind is that you need to make sure that your noodles are fully cooked. If you cook them al dente they can pull all of the moisture out of your cheese sauce and make it gummy.
Don’t over-cook your macaroni either, though. Just a minute or two past the instructions on the package for al dente pasta should suffice.
Tex-Mex Carnitas Mac and Cheese
- 3 tbsp. lard - or vegetable oil
- 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder - cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1/3 medium white onion - sliced
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/3 large orange - cut into 4 or 5 pieces, with the peel on
- 4 cups chicken stock - (1 quart) or substitute water
Macaroni and Cheese
- 3 large Hatch Green Chiles - or anaheim chiles. If you can find roasted, peeled chiles frozen, use 1/2 cup. If you can't find Hatch or anaheim chiles, you can substitute poblano chiles.
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese - about 1/4 pound
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese - about 1/4 pound
- 1/2 lb. dried macaroni
- 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder - or substitute regular if you don't want the spice (optional)
- Heat the lard in a dutch oven over medium-high heat and add the pork. Fry, turning on occasion, until the pork is browned on all sides. About 10 minutes.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly for an additional 8 minutes (be very careful, the fat tends to pop while it cooks). Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, turning over once halfway through. About 60 minutes.
- Remove the lid and discard the orange pieces. Increase heat to high, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot until all of the liquid has evaporated. About 10 minutes. Once you see the solids separate from the oil, fry an additional 5 minutes, or until the outsides of the carnitas are slightly crispy. Set aside.
Macaroni and Cheese
- Roast the green chiles under the broiler on high heat, turning halfway through until blackened all over. Place chiles in a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once cool, peel, stem, and de-seed. Cut into 1/2 inch dice.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the package. Cook beyond al dente by about a minute. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until it is completely incorporated and there are no lumps. About 3 minutes.
- Slowly pour the milk in while whisking constantly. Whisk until it is completely smooth again. Cook whisking until it thickens. About 10 minutes.
- Add the cheese and green chiles to the sauce and stir until melted. Add the pasta and gently stir and fold until everything is fully incorporated. Transfer to a serving dish. Place a pile of carnitas in the center, then sprinkle with chili powder.