Friday, October 12, 2012

Chili Mac Casserole

Savory chili
Velvety, cheesy pasta
Together as one

Chili Mac
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Chili -
2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 tbsp canola oil
1 lb (a little over is fine) ground chicken
1 green bell pepper, diced fine
1 onion, diced fine
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt

Mac -
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp + 3/4 tsp salt
12 oz can evaporated milk
5 oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp Tobasco sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp butter, cut into 1" pieces
16 oz shredded cheddar-jack cheese (you can substitute all cheddar or colby-jack)

12oz shredded cheddar-jack cheese (you can substitute all cheddar or colby-jack)

*This recipe makes two casseroles.  The measurements are nice because you use full packages of tomatoes, milk, pasta, and meat.  Also, this recipe freezes beautifully, so if it's too much, you can pop the extra in the freezer for another day.  That said, you can absolutely halve the recipe if you prefer.

*You can substitute ground beef or turkey for the chicken, but you may need to adjust the salt.

1.  Chili: pulse the diced tomatoes in a food processor until pureed.  Set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, granulated garlic, and black pepper.  Set aside.

3.  Add 1 tbsp of the oil to a large skillet set over med-high heat.  Once hot, add the chicken.  Cook, stirring and breaking up the meat as it cooks, until the chicken is cooked through.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

4.  Add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil to the skillet.  Return to medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the bell pepper, onion, spice mixture, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened.

5.  Add the processed diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the brown sugar, and the salt to the skillet.  Reduce the heat to low.

6.  Add the meat to the food processor and pulse until no large pieces remain (this step is not essential, but leads to a nicely textured casserole).

7.  Add the meat to the skillet and mix well.  When the mixture is heated through, remove the skilled from the heat and set aside.

8.  Mac: preheat the oven to 400°.

9.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the oil and 1 tbsp of the salt to the water.  Add the pasta to the water.  Cook for five minutes or until just under al dente.  Drain well and leave in the colander.

10.  Whisk together the 12oz can of evaporated milk, eggs, Tobasco, black pepper, and salt in a liquid measuring cup.  Set aside.

11.  Add the butter to the pot and set it over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the butter foams and turns a light peanut-butter color.

12.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Immediately stir in the 5oz can of evaporated milk.  Whisk in the milk-egg mixture and 8oz of the cheese.

13.  Return the pot to low heat.  Cook, stirring often, until the cheese is almost melted.  Add the remaining 8oz of cheese.  Cook, stirring often, until the cheese is almost melted.

14.  Stir the pasta into the cheese mixture and remove the pot from the heat.

15.  Add the chili meat to the pasta pot.  Mix well.

16.  Divide the mixture evenly between two 9"X13" baking dishes.  Divide the 12oz of cheese evenly over the tops of the casseroles. 

17.  Place the baking dishes in the oven.  Cook for 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is bubbly and starting to brown.

18.  Remove the casseroles from the oven.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Serve!  If you were to crumble Fritos over the top, well, I don't think you'd get any complaints :)

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