Excerpted from

STREET FOOD DIARIES

by Matt Basile. Photography by Kyla Zanardi.

INGREDIENTS

8 oz. elbow or orchietti pasta

2 cups salted butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 jar (10 oz.) Italian chilies in oil

4 cups whipping cream

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup shredded jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese

2 cups ricotta cheese

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 slices Velveeta or American cheddar

½ cup dried breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons dried chilies

1 lemon

METHOD

You’re so roux

Boil some water in a saucepan over high heat and cook the pasta for approximately 6 minutes or until it’s very, very al dente. But don’t overcook it or it will come out like mush after you bake it. Keep in mind that elbow and orecchiette pastas cook differently, so just make sure you are happy with it before it comes out. Drain it (reserving 1 cup of the cooking water) and toss it in olive oil before you let it fully cool on a baking sheet.

In a separate saucepan, start a roux by melting the butter over medium-low heat and slowly stirring in the flour until a paste-like mixture begins to form. Add three-quarters of the jar of chilies in oil and the whipping cream, all while stirring constantly. If you find the sauce too thick, gradually add more cream (but don’t add any more than another 4 cups). The key to making a good cheese sauce is constant stirring over medium-low heat, so just assume you have to keep stirring until I say to stop. Start to add the cheeses. First, the grated mozzarella, then the Monterey Jack, followed by the ricotta. Cook the cheeses, still stirring, for approximately 5 minutes or until they’ve mostly melted. Add the Parmesan cheese with the Velveeta slices. Stir the cheese sauce until the cheeses have fully melted.

Macaroni (or orchietti) and cheese time

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Transfer the cooled pasta to a deep baking pan — cast iron ovenproof skillets or deep porcelain dishes work best. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta so it is well covered. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the dried chilies and then sprinkle the mixture over the surface of the mac ’n’ cheese. Bake for approximately 6 minutes or until the breadcrumbs start to brown. Remove from the oven, drizzle chili oil over the top of the pasta and serve with a lemon wedge.

SERVES 4-6