Southwestern Turkey Mac & Cheese

If this doesn't make you wanna put on footie pajamas, grab a spoon and eat by the fire then maybe it's time you started seeing other blogs.

If you know anything about the Brothers Brown you know that we love three things in life: silk sheets, long walks on the beach, and mac & cheese. This one came to us in a vision and had nothing to do with the fact that we had about five pounds of ground turkey in the freezer. Chipotle and pepper jack keep your tongue tantalized while the tomatoes provide a sweet contrast.

Equipment Needed: 3 QT Dutch Oven (OR) 13 x 9 Baking Pan, 2 – 3 QT Pots (you only need one if you’re using a Dutch Oven), Wooden Spoon, Frying Pan, Chef’s Knife, Cutting Board, Cheese Grater, Colander

Serving Suggestion: Family Style

Servings: 6-8

Suggested Wine Pairing: Rioja, Carmenere, Oaked Chardonnay

Suggested Beer Pairing: Dos Equis, Negro Modelo, Corona


  • 1 lb ground turkey ($5.99/lb)
  • 1 lb  pasta shells (or conchiglie for all you Italians in the house) ($1.50/lb)
  • 1 medium onion ($0.99/lb)
  • 2 C milk (we kept it “healthy” and used skim) ($1.19/QT)
  • 1/3 C flour ($1.89/2 lbs)
  • 2 TBSP butter ($4.99/lb)
  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese ($5.99/lb)
  • 8 oz pepper jack cheese ($5.49/lb)
  • 3-6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce ($2.99/can)
  • 1/2 C diced tomatoes ($1.99/14.5 oz can)
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil ($9.99/32 oz)
  • 1 TSP ground oregano ($2/2 oz jar)
  • 1 TBSP ground cumin ($3.50/2 oz jar)
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Fill one of your pots about 3/4 full of water and put it over medium heat. Bring it to a boil and throw in about a palmful of salt. Add the pasta and a splash of olive oil, stirring occasionally to prevent clumping. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until the shells are soft. Drain the water and set the pasta aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, dice the onion and mince the chipotle peppers. We used 6 peppers and it came out with a pretty heavy kick to it so adjust the number according to how hot you want it. Put the frying pan over medium heat and coat the bottom with olive oil. Add the onions with a healthy dash of salt and pepper and cook them down for about 5 minutes.

Dice things quicker by making thin vertical and horizontal cuts in the onion before slicing it crosswise.

  • Throw the turkey in the pan with some more pepper and stir occasionally, cooking until it’s lightly browned (about 8 minutes). Pour in the minced peppers with about a tablespoon of the adobo sauce, cumin and oregano. Stir everything well and drop the burner to low for another couple minutes so the flavors meld.
  • Put your Dutch oven (or other pot) over medium heat  and add the butter. Once it’s melted, add about 1/4C of flour and stir thoroughly to make a paste. Cook until the roux (pronounced “roo,” that’s what you just created) is golden brown—like a perfectly roasted marshmallow—and stir in the milk. Begin shredding in your cheese and stir continuously until it’s fully melted in. Add more cheese and stir until you’ve used all the cheddar and half of the pepper jack.

Err on the side of less flour so the roux stays smooth. You can always add more later to thicken it up.

  • Mix the meat, pasta and cheese sauce in whatever you’re baking it in (either your baking pan or Dutch oven). Drain the tomatoes as much as you can and add them a bit at a time trying to avoid including any extra liquid. Stir again to incorporate everything.

Use a fork or slotted spoon to add the tomatoes to make sure you're not adding extra liquid.

  • Spread the rest of the pepper jack over the top and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes until it’s browned and bubbling. If you can control yourself, let it cool a bit to set up before serving.

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