Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
2 cups cavatappi pasta
1 cup pancetta
4 red jalapeno or red fresno chilies, finely diced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 ½ cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ bottle Red Jalapeno & Garlic hot sauce
kosher salt to taste
ground white pepper to taste
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, grated
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
pan spray as needed
1. In a medium cast iron pan fry the pancetta over medium heat until well rendered and browned (cooked but not crispy). Add diced chilies and cook for 2 minutes until soft, then melt butter.
2. Stir in flour until a paste forms, then very slowly stir in milk and whisk until smooth and lump free. Reduce the heat to low and add Dijon mustard, hot sauce, salt and white pepper, then bring to a light simmer to thicken, whisking constantly.
3. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 390 F and cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente (take a few minutes off package cooking time, you want a fairly firm pasta so it doesn’t get mushy in the oven).
4. Once sauce has thickened, turn off heat and stir in cheddar, jack cheese, cream cheese and ½ cup of parmesan. Taste for seasoning. Add pasta to the cheese sauce (if not using a cast iron pan transfer this mixture to an oven safe baking dish). Top with remaining parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray lightly with pan spray and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.