Grilled Shishito & Sweet Corn Mac n Cheese

I’m standing over the stove charring shishito peppers over an open flame with my brother Jung. We eat them as we go, marveling in what a wonderful snack they are, paying no mind to the fact that our supply is rapidly dwindling. While blistering peppers on the stove top is a tedious task it’s necessary as I no longer have access to a grill. Cue the sad violin. 

Shishito Corn mac n cheese
I just bought about a pound of the slightly sweet Asian peppers. They make for a fun game of culinary roulette as every now and then you get a particularly spicy one. But for the most part they pack a mild kick and are a perfect snack on their own or paired with a creamy dipping sauce. 

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 For this recipe I wanted to pair them with a spicy white cheese and some sweet corn. I love the combination of sweet and spicy! I thought a stove-top (not baked) version would be nice but still wanted some crispy texture to replace the crunch of the typical baked panko breadcrumbs. It was my brother who-in a fit of genius-came up with the idea to use pork rinds (chicharrones) as a topping. A flair for food runs in my family.

Shishito Corn mac n cheese-3
Shishito Corn mac n cheese-4  Once that was settled on the rest was  pretty much taken care of. I typically refer to Chef John of Food Wishes recipe for Mac and cheese. It’s simple and perfectly flavored–a great jumping off point. If you don’t make Mac often, check out his Mac and cheese recipe here. It’s classic and never disappoints. Once I mastered his sauce recipe I started taking liberties and adding and removing ingredients as I went. In this case this meant using spices like cumin and paprika and choosing a spicy jalapeño Jack over a sharp cheddar. 
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  Shishito Corn mac n cheese-5
I went to my neighborhood Mexican market and bought authentic, fresh chicharrones for the topping, along with some queso fresco. Since this isn’t an oven-baked mac I would advice serving the crumbled chicharrones on the side to avoid any soggy bits. Serve with some fresh chopped cilantro and your favorite hot sauce for a sweet, spicy, and salty rendition of mac n cheese that will have you reconsidering your classic noodles and cheese recipe. 
Shishito Corn mac n cheese-8
Grilled Shishito & Sweet Corn Mac N Cheese
Serves 8
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  1. For the Mac
  2. 12 oz. cooked and drained pasta, (I used Orecchiette)
  3. 1 lb. shishito peppers
  4. 4 ears of sweet white corn, husks removed
  5. Olive oil
  6. Salt and Pepper
  7. 1 cup crumbled chicharrones
  8. 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco, for serving
  9. Fresh chopped cilantro, for serving
  10. Hot sauce, for serving
  11. Sliced limes, for serving
  12. For the Cheese Sauce
  13. ¼ cup butter
  14. ¼ cup flour
  15. ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  16. ½ tsp. cumin
  17. ¼ tsp. smoked paprika
  18. Pinch white pepper
  19. 3 cups cold milk
  20. Pinch of nutmeg
  21. 1 tsp. Worcestershire
  22. 1 tsp. salt
  23. 3 cups grated jalapeño jack cheese
  1. Prep your Add-ins
  2. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Drain and return to pot.
  3. On the grill or over your stovetop, use tongs to grill shishito peppers, lightly charring on all sides.
  4. Set aside and allow to cool before removing stems and giving them a rough chop.
  5. Drizzle a little olive oil over corn and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  6. Then use the same method for lightly grilling the corn on all sides, allow to cool, before carefully using a knife to remove kernels.
  7. Add shishitos and corn to the pasta.
  8. Make the Béchamel
  9. In a large saucepan, heat butter on medium heat until it begins to sizzle.
  10. Whisk in flour to make a roux and cook for about 3-4 minutes until it is a light golden brown.
  11. Add cayenne, cumin, paprika, and pepper and cook another minute.
  12. Whisk in 1 cup milk, then whisk remaining 2 cups of milk. (Cold milk is the key to no lumps!)
  13. Add in salt, nutmeg, and Worcestershire.
  14. Whisk frequently for about 7 minutes, the sauce will begin to simmer and start to thicken quite a bit. Do not allow to boil!
  15. Remove from heat and stir in three 3 cups grated cheese, mixing until completely melted.
  16. Pour sauce over pasta, peppers, and corn, mixing until everything is combined.
  17. Serve with crumbled chicharrones, chopped, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, lime wedges, and your favorite hot sauce!
  18. Enjoy!
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2 Comment

  1. mika says: Reply

    my partner and I have now made this mac n cheese three times. and, last night we won a mac n cheese contest with it! lovely recipe; thanks so much!

    1. Christine says: Reply

      Hey Mika! I love this! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe and that’s so neat that you won a contest with it! Thanks for sharing, things like this really brighten my day!


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